India’s Essar Group, which has a long-time presence in the Kenyan wireless market through Essar Telecom Kenya (ETK, or yu) has denied reports that it is looking for a buyer in preparation for its exit from the fiercely competitive Kenyan mobile sector. Responding to unverified Kenyan press reports regarding the rumours, ETK manager Madhur Taneja announced: ‘Essar Group has invested over USD500 million into Essar Telecom Kenya and continues to be actively involved in its operations. As you may have already seen from the latest CCK report, yu was the fastest growing mobile service operator … Essar Telecom Kenya is, and continues to be, part of Essar Group, a USD20 billion international company with a staff force of over 75,000. It is not considering any sell-off options’.
TeleGeography notes that the press reports come just over one year on from previous speculation over ETK’s future. The original report coincided with the Essar Group’s admission that it has pulled out of a long-standing agreement to acquire telecoms assets in Uganda and the Republic of Congo. At that time speculation was rife that South African telecoms giant MTN – a company with a long-held interest in securing a foothold the Kenyan wireless sector – was interested in buying out ETK. However, MTN quickly distanced itself from the rumours.