Additional details have emerged regarding the proposed takeover of Libyan investment portfolio LAP Green Network, which owns a large number of telecoms assets across Africa. As reported by TeleGeography on Friday, Denis O’Brien – the chairman and founder of Digicel Group, which operates telecoms services across the Caribbean, Central America and Pacific regions – was rumoured to be part of a British-led consortium that had paid USD270 million for LAP Green. The Irish Times, citing ‘informed sources’, reports that Centamon, a company controlled by British consultancy firm Levant Group, and Demco, a Greek investment company, has acquired a 65% stake in LAP Green, and asked Digicel to run the business on its behalf. However, at this stage, it is unclear what kind of equity participation Digicel will have in the venture. The deal, it says, is subject to approval from the UN Security Council and the European Union (EU).
Despite the trickle of details in the press, the precise terms of the deal remain shrouded in mystery. Interestingly, the UK Times has indicated that the takeover deal was actually signed on 8 August, two months before Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by Libyan forces in Sirte. LAP Green was set up by Gaddafi in 2006 and incorporated in February 2007, with an initial capital of USD5 billion. The company quickly built up a track record for acquiring struggling state-owned operators across Africa, and companies currently operating under the LAP Green umbrella include: Zambia’s Zamtel, Rwandatel of Rwanda, Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL), GreenN Cote d’Ivoire, GreenN Togo, GreenN Sierra Leone, Sonitel Niger and Gemtel in Sudan. It is unclear at this stage whether the Centamon transaction also includes Libya’s three domestic cellcos Libyana, Al Madar Telecomm Company and LibyaPhone Mobile, all of which are wholly state-owned via Libya Post and Telecommunications Information Technology (LPTIC).