On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- France Telecom (FT) chief executive officer Stephane Richard has said his company may invest up to EUR7 billion (USD9.3 billion) in deals centred on Africa and the Middle East in the next five years, Bloomberg reports. It is understood the proposed investment would be part of an FT plan to double the revenue it currently generates from emerging markets – currently worth about EUR3.3 billion, or 7% of annual sales. In an interview, Richard said: ‘If we can buy a portfolio of assets to arrive more rapidly, that’s very good … If it’s necessary to buy licences country by country, that works also.’ In particular, FT is focused on filling gaps in its West Africa footprint, Richard said.

- The government of Libya is reportedly planning to sell stakes in two mobile operators, Libyana and Al Madar, according to Bloomberg. Under the first phase of the sale plan, an initial 5% stake in the two wholly state-owned companies will be divested for a total of USD400 million, with the government planning to the offer further stakes of up to 40%. Beltone Securities International, a subsidiary of Egyptian investment bank Beltone Financial, is said to be advising on the sale.

- The Crowdfund the South African venture capitalist start-up has raised a million rand. After being formed last March, they raised the money through the collaboration of 229 investors. Crowdfund seems poised to take on the South African tech scene by storm, since they are the first investors of any kind targeted exclusively at the tech scene in the country.

- Egypt's Orascom Telecom said that its Algerian subsidiary Djezzy appealed to the Administrative Court of Algiers to request, "An injunction to immediately suspend the payment order received pursuant to the rejection of OTA's appeal to the tax administration on April 1." In a company statement, officials also requested "The dismissal of the entire tax adjustment for the years 2004 through to 2007, on the merit of the case." Meanwhile, the telecom operator provisionally paid $254 million, representing the balance of principal amounts due under the tax claim. In accordance with Algerian law, remaining penalties (currently $175 million) are suspended until final decision by the Administrative Court.

- Nigerian fixed-wireless operator Starcomms has announced its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2009, reporting a 53% year-on-year rise in gross profit to NGN18.896 billion (USD124 million), compared to NGN12.385 billion in 2008. The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2009 leapt 633% to NGN7.334 billion, up from NGN935 million a year earlier, which Starcomms attributed to a 13% rise in service revenue, operational efficiencies from a greater scale of operations and effective cost control. The company’s operating loss improved 85% from NGN4.448 billion in 2008 to NGN666 million a year later; if the naira remains constant or improves, Starcomms says it expects to see a much better bottom line performance in 2010.