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19.04.2004 General News

Investor Cries Foul Over Ghanair Bid

By The Independent
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Following recent signals from the Ministry of Roads and Transport on definite steps on the future of Ghanair, a New-York based company, Corporate Trade Solutions INC, which put bid that has been ditched, has sent a letter signed by its President and CEO, Donald A. Stukes to use complaining about the way the bed process has been handled.

We publish the said letter unedited for the attention of the Roads and Transport Ministry and all who are interested in Ghanair affairs.

The letter also had the bid proposals of Corporate Trade Solutions Inc attached. We have handed by the proposals to our aviation consultants for study.

Corporate Trade Solutions, Inc Westchester Financial Centre 50 Main Street, Suite 110 White Plains, New York USA 10606 April 6, 2004 To The Readers of the Ghana Independent.

My name is Donald Stukes and I am the President and CEO of Corporate Trade Solutions, Inc an investment banking and international trade firm located in New York USA. I have been in direct communications with several Ghana Airways senior management over the past four years, starting with Emmanuel Quartey, Jr. I write this letter in an attempt for the people of Ghana to understand my frustrations with my dealings with Ghana Air officials and selected government officials.

Our firm objective has been consistent throughout our interaction with the airline. We believe that Ghana Air is a diamond in the rough. We believe with the proper aircraft and the restructuring of the management philosophy, Ghanair can create real job growth and help stimulate the economy. There is no reason why Ghana Air can't and should not be the aviation hub (both pax and cargo) in West Africa.

Our restructuring strategy for Ghana Air is more realistic than the pie in the sky strategy we have heard for years, which is to have an European or US based airline operator buy equity into Ghana Air and satisfy all their outstanding debts. That is just not going to happen in this current environment. One should ask, what does Ghanair really have to offer to the operator? The answer is not much, in Ghana Air's current state except some routes, which the European airlines are trying to compromise as we speak.

The prudent strategy is to clean up the airline (satisfy its obligations, upgrade systems, secure newer aircraft, become cash flow before soliciting for an equity partners. This could be done in a 12-36month period and now you have something to offer the equity partner. Furthermore, the equity contribution required for the agreed upon minority stake could be significant.

As I said, we tried to work with Ghanair back in 1999/2000 to offer them some B747-4000's at an attractive lease rate or sale. We even offered to pay on a per seat bases. Meaning we would collect the purchase price of the aircraft as a percent of the ticket income over a period of time, only to be rejected. The airline ended up entering what we considered, an onerous agreement with Malaysia Air for some old DC-10's.

This brings us to present day. We commended discussions with Phillip Owusu back in August 2003. We were aware of Ghanair's back in August 2003. We were aware of Ghanair need for short haul aircraft as well as a need for short haul aircraft as well as a need for short haul aircraft. We explained to Mr. Owusu that we would be happy to structure a deal for Ghana Air to enter a lease/purchase for two 1991 B747-4000 (keep in mind at this time the airline was flying 1980 DC-10). We offer various financial options, fully aware of all Ghanair's financial issues. We offered to structure a revenue share payment arrangement which would not play any more fixed debt on the airline's book.

The plan was submitted on a timely base and we were told that we would have a response before the second week in December. Needless to say repeated calls and emails to Mr. Owusu went unanswered. Eventually several weeks thereafter, once id did get an opportunity to communicate with him he stated that there were three other proposals that addressed the airlines needs also included equity contributions but our proposals was still being considered.

I asked if I could meet with him and the Ghana Air Board of Directors and I was told that he made the decision and that was not necessary. I asked him if we could meet on his next trip to NYC and he agreed. We planned to meet the week of February 16th and I scheduled a breakfast with him in Baltimore Maryland. For whatever reason, I was not able to locate or communicate with him when he came to Baltimore and then New York and we not meet. That was the last contact I had with Mr. Owusu.

I read via online newspapers and heard from contacts in Ghana that Ghana Air had narrowed the proposals down to three, of which our proposal was one of them. I tried contacting Mr. Owusu to no avail. I then read that Mr. Owusu was terminated from his duties at Ghana Air. This is when I ultimately was able to contact the Ministry of Transportation office. They referred me to the deputy minister of Transportation who was handling the Ghana Air matter.

Now I read that the airline is about to sign a deal to acquire a B767 and a B737 from an airline company I have never heard of. Is this not the same band-aid approach that has gotten the airline in the posture it is in today

We have tried hard to help Ghana Air address their problems in a constructive and comprehensive matter. Is it not time to address the core problem and into the symptoms to the problem? Is it not time to make an honest and fair assessment of the state of the airline in order to address its issues? Is it not time to have a transparent evaluation process for all to fully understand the decisions that are being made that will impact many people directly and indirectly? As an African American firm we desperately desire to build ties with an African brothers and bring the resources to bear that we have at our disposal, but as they say “you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Our plan is viable and can create real enterprise value for the airline. Ghana Air can rehabilitate its image and presence in the aviation sector. Most importantly, the plan will help the airline become a financially solvent operation that will create jobs and create growth in the aviation sector.

Sincerely, Donald A. Stukes, President and CEO

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