FT’s planned acquisition of Sonatel shares abandoned

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The government of Senegal has abandoned plans to sell a 9.87% stake in its national PTO Sonatel to France Telecom amid criticism that the move would cost local jobs.

The cash-strapped African country had hoped to raise EUR209 million (USD276 million) from the sale of shares in a move that would have made the French firm the majority shareholder in Sonatel with 52.2%.

However, critics attacked the plan which they said was ‘colonial’ and would result in redundancies, while in some parts of Dakar, people launched 'go slow' protests in a bid to block it. ‘The government tells us that the solution of selling [the stake] to France Telecom has been cancelled and we can only congratulate the advisors of the president,' Ibrahima Konte, a Sonatel union leader, said on national TV last Friday.

Commenting on the climbdown, a senior government official said: 'The state has abandoned the sale to France Telecom but we are not abandoning the selling of shares ... we will seek other means,' he said.