Parliament blocks GT sale; decision delayed at least a month
Ghana’s legislative chamber has delayed a decision on whether to allow UK-based mobile giant Vodafone to acquire a 70% stake in the country’s national fixed line operator and mobile services provider Ghana Telecom (GT). Earlier this month Vodafone agreed to buy the majority stake from the government for USD900 million on a debt-free, cash-free basis. The deal implies a total enterprise value of approximately USD1.3 billion for the telco which has around 375,000 main lines in service and also operates the country's third largest mobile network, GT-OneTouch, with 1.4 million customers and a 17% market share at the end of March 2008. Vodafone will now have to wait until the chamber reconvenes after its one-month break before the purchase can be approved.
The government has also been forced to reintroduce an amended version of the agreement to members of a joint committee examining the deal in order to address some of the concerns raised by its critics. After MPs had adjourned, Communications Minister Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim told reporters he was confident the deal would be approved ‘within the third quarter period.’ Only last week, members of the opposition Convention People’s Party (CPP) submitted a petition to parliament to register their disapproval over the sale of a majority stake in GT. The CPP members, reportedly calling themselves ‘the concerned citizens of Ghana’, have described the deal as ‘undesirable’ and ‘unscrupulous’ and questioned the executive’s motives for rushing bills through parliament without first conducting due diligence.