Southeast Asian telecoms operator Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) is reported to be planning a bid for a 51% stake in Ghana’s state-owned national PTO, Ghana Telecom (GT), according to Reuters citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation. GT has confirmed on its website that investors are conducting due diligence on the company with a view to participating in the auction for the majority stake. A move into the African market is consistent with SingTel’s strategy of expanding into markets beyond its traditional Asia-Pacific region where it has spent upwards of SGD18 billion (USD12.2 billion) in recent years acquiring telecoms assets in high growth markets such as Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. Merrill Lynch is rumoured to be acting as SingTel’s advisor in the matter, although both declined to comment. Portugal Telecom is also rumoured to have been short-listed to participate in the auction, together with three other unnamed operators.
In a related story, Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on the government to halt the proposed sale of 51% of GT until a careful review is held to assess the true economic value of the company. In a press conference a spokesman for the NDC said: ‘To proceed on the advertised terms is not in our national economic interest.’