8 Oct 2018
Equatorial Guinea has announced the resolution of litigation begun in 2014 over Orange Group’s ownership stake in the incumbent fixed line and mobile operator Guinea Ecuatorial de Telecomunicaciones Sociedad Anonima (Getesa). Agence Ecofin cites a statement from the Equatorial Guinea Embassy in France, confirming that on 26 September 2018 the African country’s government signed an agreement with Orange Middle East & Africa under which it paid EUR50 million (USD57.5 million) to the French-based telecoms giant in return for relinquishing Getesa shares. The final payment followed Equatorial Guinea’s initial share payment to Orange of EUR45 million in October 2016, thereby settling the balance of an agreed EUR95 million redemption price for Orange’s 40% stake. The government said it now calls on Orange to ‘resolve the last problematic issues regarding its exit from Getesa and to formally proceed with the transfer’ to revert sole ownership to the state. Orange Group has had no effective management involvement at Getesa for a number of years.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Equatorial Guinea’s government lost a Paris Court of Appeal case against a fine imposed in July 2014 by the International Court of Arbitration for reneging on a 2011 agreement to buy Orange’s Getesa stake in the event of a new entrant launching (a clause it failed to honour after the 2012 launch of majority state-owned cellco GECOMSA). In October 2016 the government finally agreed to pay a total amount of EUR150 million including interest to Orange.
The Embassy statement indicated that an independent audit is under way to accurately determine the state of the incumbent operator post-Orange withdrawal.