On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- Zain has formally completed the payment of US$115 million to the government of Ghana to complete the part-privatisation of the country’s second operator Western Telesystems Limited (WESTEL). In a press statement today, the Ministry of Information and National Orientation said the receipt of Zain's payment represented the transaction payment of its 66.67% shareholding in WESTEL and thus concluded the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA). This leaves a balance of USD5 million which will be paid subject to the completion of due diligence, it said.

- In parallel, the government of Ghana is planning a US$300 million bond issue, part of the proceeds of which will be used to clear US$228 million of debt assumed from Ghana Telecom (GT), Reuters reports citing the Deputy Finance Minister Anthony Osei Akoto as saying last Friday. The government agreed to take on the debt as part of its agreement to sell a 70% stake in GT to Vodafone Group for US$900 million on a debt-free basis, in July. In other words, the GT purchase price was actually US$600 once the debt commitment was stripped out.

- Egypt's Orascom Telecom bought back a further 243,000 of its own global depositary receipts, the firm said this week. The GDRs are equivalent to about 1.2 million local shares, a company statement said. The company last month purchased 587,530 of its GDRs and announced its intention to buy back up to 8.9 million GDR shares over 12 months, market conditions permitting, a company official said.

- South Africa's Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) spokesperson Nozipho January-Bardill said on Tuesday that the operator will focus on investment in Africa and take advantage of the ongoing deregulation of the telecoms industry in many countries.

- France Telecom is turning away from acquisitions in Europe and plans to refocus on opportunities in Africa - mainly in Anglophone countries, according to its chief executive Didier Lombard. According to an interview with the Financial Times, he said that the company would not repeat its aborted $41bn takeover attempt for TeliaSonera and would focus on small to medium deals in emerging markets. Lombard ruled out acquiring a large pan-African mobile operator, such as MTN or Orascom of Egypt, "because the value is already in the price".