Government Suspends Sale of Shares in Ghana Telecom

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The Ghanaian Government seems cursed when it comes to the sale of its telecoms assets. The Head of Corporate Communication and Customer Care of Ghana Telecom, Major Albert B. Don-Chebe, has revealed that the government of Ghana has suspended the off-loading of 66% of its shares, in the state-owned Ghana Telecom (GT), to strategic investors owing to low bidding.

Speaking in Accra on Friday, Don-Chebe said France Telecom offered US$520 million, but was rejected because the Government believed the assets of Ghana Telecom was worth much more than that. Don-Chebe said Spanish and Portuguese telecommunications companies also put in bids, but they were all considered below the expectations of the government.

He, however, said the government was ready to re-open the bid to any bidder, who would satisfy its minimum expectations.

Pitching Ghana Telecom’s case, Don-Chebe said it had over 1.4 million mobile phone subscribers, indicating that the company had more fixed lines than any other telecommunication company in Ghana.

Meanwhile, SingTel, Southeast Asia's largest phone company, has dropped its bid for GT. "We decided not to proceed, due to issues arising from the process," Lim Chuan Poh, CEO of SingTel's international operations, was quoted by the Reuters report as saying. "Even if we had proceeded, they did not complete the process, so we did not waste our time... our decision not to proceed was the right one."

SingTel posted a 9.6 % rise in quarterly underlying profits to S$931 million last week, as robust Asian mobile growth offset a margin squeeze at its Australian Unit Optus, the Reuters report further said. Vodacom was touted as another possible bidder (undoubtedly by “government sources”) but it too has already dropped out of the race.

Perhaps the Ghana Government should face the harsh reality that something is only worth what buyers are willing to pay.

Ghanaian Chronicle