Netherlands-based regional mobile operator Celtel Communications Group is reported to be in talks to acquire the government’s 66.34% stake in Ghana’s second national operator (SNO) Western Telesystem Company (WESTEL). The Ghanaian Chronicle reports it has ‘credible information’ that Celtel is offering between USD120 million and USD150 million for the holding after talks with the preferred bidder, Kinz Telecom, collapsed. Kinz, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, had reached an agreement with the government to pay USD250 million for the stake, but talks broke down over the price of the shares. In addition, the UAE-backed venture failed to make good on paying the government within the 45-day deadline that was set.
The state has now decided to opt for the second company on the list, Celtel Communications, a company with a long track record on the African continent. It began its mobile operations there in 1998 and has since expanded to have a presence in 14 African countries with licences covering more than a third of the population of Africa. The original holding company, MSI Cellular Investments, changed its name to Celtel International in January 2004. Commercially, it has a strong record of investment and growth, having invested more than USD750 million in Africa to date.
In a related story Celtel International’s owner, Mobile Telecommunication Company Group (MTC) of Kuwait, is planning to relocate Celtel’s regional office from Netherlands to Nairobi. Celtel Kenya CEO David Murray confirmed the move. MTC’s decision comes hard on the heels of a recent announcement that it is setting up a USD10.5 billion investment fund to expand mobile telecommunication operations in Africa through Celtel International.