SingTel – BT

SingTel plans to bid for Ghana Telecom: report

Ghana telco valued at US$1b; up to 66% stake up for grabs

SINGAPORE Telecommunications, South-east Asia’s largest telecommunications firm, plans to bid for a majority stake in state-owned Ghana Telecom, in a deal likely to be over US$500 million, banking sources told Reuters.

An acquisition in Africa would take SingTel beyond its traditional footprint in Asia-Pacific where it has spent S$18 billion in recent years, buying operators in high-growth Asian nations, and in the bigger Australian market.

According to Ghana Telecom’s website, strategic investors are undertaking due diligence of the company for taking part in a privatisation auction for the majority stake.

One source said the auction would be for at least a 51 per cent stake or as much as 66 per cent in the company valued at around US$1 billion.

Sources close to the deal said Merrill Lynch was advising SingTel. Both SingTel and Merrill declined to comment.

‘We do not comment on market rumours,’ said a SingTel spokesperson.

The sources said SingTel would be competing for the stake with French telecom giant France Telecom and Portugal Telecom.

Local telecom companies in Ghana include payphone operator Westel, and mobile operators Scancom Ltd, Mobitel and Kasapa.

Ghana Telecom’s mobile phone services arm, Onetouch, is the country’s second-largest after Scancom.

Ghana is considered to be one of the fastest growing sub-Saharan economies with its gross domestic product growing at about 6 per cent in 2006 and the government aiming for 6.5 per cent growth in 2007.

The country of 20 million people at the end of June 2007 had a total of 6.7 million telephone subscribers.

Faced with a saturated home market, SingTel has been tapping into the fast growth in low-penetration countries across Asia and now derives about 75 per cent of sales from operations outside Singapore.

SingTel owns Australia’s No 2 phone operator Optus and large stakes in five Asian mobile operators: Thailand’s Advanced Info Service plc, India’s Bharti Group, Globe Telecom Inc in the Philippines, Indonesia’s PT Telkomsel and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd.

It recently bought a 30 per cent stake in Pakistan’s No 3 mobile phone operator Warid Telecom. — Reuters

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