According to Bloomberg Business Week, citing comments made by South African communications minister Roy Padayachie, Telkom South Africa is ‘considering a major transaction in Africa’. Speaking at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Johannesburg, Padayachie commented: ‘The board is busy with a major deal. Telkom will make an announcement soon. You have to be patient, Telkom will make the announcement when the time is right, but the board is busy with a deal’. The minister was responding to questions regarding whether Telkom intended to make a new acquisition in Africa after selling its ill-fated investment in Nigeria’s Multilinks. Telkom bought its initial 75% stake in Multilinks for USD280 million in May 2007 and purchased the remaining 25% in January 2009 for USD130 million. However, the telco cut its losses in June 2011 when it disposed of the loss-making unit for just USD10 million, to an affiliate of Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN).
Speaking at the meeting, Telkom chairman Lazarus Zim cautioned that the company needed to build a sustainable business in Africa, saying: ‘There were expensive and important lessons that we learnt in Nigeria’. However, company spokesman Pynee Chetty distanced Telkom from the acquisition speculation, saying that the company has ‘not identified attractive acquisition targets in Africa at this juncture’ and that the group’s focus ‘is currently to improve the performance of existing businesses’.