Namibia: Telecom Fights to Get Angolan Loan back

Telecoms

Telecom Namibia is struggling to get back about N$174 million it loaned to the Angolan company, Mundo Startel SA, in 2003. Mundo Startel SA is an Angolan telecoms company that Telecom Namibia invested in, acquiring a 44% sharholding.

The revelations come barely a week after Telecom Namibia failed to pay its workers on time because of cash flow problems. Last week, The Namibia revealed that Telecom Namibia workers were only paid on Saturday, about two days after their pay date.

Documents obtained by The Namibian show that the money was given to Mundo Startel SA as a loan and that Telecom Namibia managing director Frans Ndoroma demanded the money back in 2011. In the letter dated 8 August, Ndoroma informed Mundo Startel SA shareholders that Telecom Namibia was disinvesting because of the business conditions in the country.

"It is common knowledge that the business needs funding to enable it to meet its business plan and the Angolan shareholders have not contributed to the funding needs of Mundo Startel SA," Ndoroma wrote.

He also said "it should be clearly understood that the amount of US$15 682 092,35 was a loan from Telecom Namibia to Mundo Startel SA and that Telecom Namibia has legal recourse in securing repayment of that amount and your unfounded allegations in your letter cannot refute the fact that Mundo Startel SA is indebted to Telecom Namibia in the amount of US$15 682 092,35".

Documents also show that Telecom refuted that Mundo Startel SA shares were worth nothing, saying they would only transfer the shares on full payment of the loan.

"We deny that shares of Mundo Startel SA are worth zero and herewith reserve our right to sell our shares to a third party should Angolan shareholders not meet the conditions of transfer of our shares. We, however, remain available to enter into negotiations for the repayment terms of our loans," Ndoroma wrote.

Ndoroma said Telecom had attempted to secure a loan through the Development Bank of South Africa, which he said was sabotaged by the Angolan board chairman. Last year, the global rating agency, Fitch, which downgraded Telecom Namibia, said that the company was expecting to recover N$20 million, which appears to be a major loss given the amount of money invested in Angola.

It is unclear whether Telecom has received any of the money to date because efforts to get comments yesterday were unsuccessful. The company spokesperson Oiva Angula's phone was unreachable.

Angolan shareholders refused to implement a management agreement that would have allowed Telecom to appoint the managing director, technical manager and financial manager saying Mundo had incurred losses amounting to US$2million.

Source:Namibian 2 October 2014