Sudatel Group, owners of Expresso Telecoms operations in Africa have announced that the sale of Expresso Ghana was concluded in the second quarter (Q2) of this year.
Without naming the buyer, Sudatel said on its website “selling of shares in Ghana operation was concluded in Q2 2014”.
The revelation was contained in a statement announcing Sudatel’s half year performance.
Between April and December last year, the company had exclusive sales negotiations with Ghana’s Jospong Group of Companies, but the deal fell through at the last minute (January 31, 2014) due to conflict of interest.
Jospong is the mother company for Subah Infosolutions Limited, a company which audits telcos in Ghana, so it cannot also legally buy a telco in Ghana.
Expresso Ghana’s Managing Director, El Amir Ahmed El Amir told Adom Business then that the company had several interested buyers, so once the Jospong deal was off, the company was back on the market.
Adom Business got unconfirmed information that some unnamed Kuwaiti company showed interest in Expresso Ghana after the Jospong deal fell through.
But it is still not clear if the telco has been sold to that Kuwaiti company.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s telecoms regulator, National Communication Authority says they have no direct official communication from Sudatel or Expresso Ghana about the sale, so they cannot comment further.
Ghana’s sole CDMA operator has been suffering for a while now due to the inability of Sudatel to recapitalize the company.
Sudatel is handicapped by international sanctions on Sudan, because of which they are unable to move money around to recapitalize their operations outside of Sudan, particularly Ghana.
As a result, Expresso Ghana’s debt stock has reportedly been growing, and the telco has been losing customers consistently for more than a year now.
The recent subscriber base figures published by the NCA for June 2014, shows Expresso lost 15,874 customers in June alone, and finished with 127,505 subscribers, representing an abysmal 0.44% market share.
Meanwhile, Sudatel’s operations in Senegal and Guinea are reportedly doing well, and contributing hugely to the company’s earnings, as per the half year report this year.
Local workers confident
Adom Business has been speaking with some workers of the company who say “we do not concern ourselves with whether the company is sold or not - people are in this organization to work so anything that will enable them do that is welcome.”
Some say they are confident the decline of the company would be reversed once the expected recapitalization comes on stream; and they are hopeful that would happen sooner than later.
Reports say some staff left the company out of frustration, but those who stayed believe movement of staff within the telecom industry is nothing special, as some of the GSM telcos have also seen lots of movements of staff recently.
Meanwhile Sudatel reported strong performance in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period the previous year.
It finished the period with 11.2million customers, net income of US$28million, EBITDA stood at US$75million (17% higher than last year’s), and consolidated revenue of US$233million.
Meanwhile, earnings per share (EPS) grew from US$0.003 last year to US$0.024 this year.
It however recorded a US$10million loss due to foreign exchange losses in home country, Sudan. But it managed to reach various agreement to invest 20million euros in its operations in Guinea Conakry.
Expresso Footprints in Africa
Expresso is an African telecommunications services company. It provides telecommunication services in five African markets: Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Ghana and Nigeria. The company is a key player in the implementation of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable. Sudatel owns 75% of the total Expresso shares.
Expresso started Chinguitel in Mauritania in 2006. Sudatel owns 68% shares in Chinguitel. By August 2007, Chinguitel established a CDMA network, providing full coverage across that country.
In November 2007, Expresso Senegal became Expresso’s second ‘green field’ operation. Sudatel’s share is Expresso Sengal is 75%.
In July 2008, Expresso Telecom acquired 100% of Ghana’s Kasapa Telecom Company. Sudatel share in this company is 75%, which it is now selling to Jospong.
In December 2008, Expresso Telecom acquired 70% of Nigeria’s Intercellular but has since sold it off to another operator.
Expresso also acquired 100% ownership of Intercel Guinea SA, which started operations in 2012.