Home Science Technology AirtelTigo buyer has no telecoms background, brings in strategic partner

AirtelTigo buyer has no telecoms background, brings in strategic partner

Airtel-Tigo merger

Techgh24 has learnt that the buyer of AirtelTigo is a private equity firm that has no telecoms background but is bringing in a strategic partner with the expertise to do the job.

Sources say since the buyer is only in for equity, government will continue to hold some shares in the company, but it is still not clear what the shareholding structure is.

Still no names are out yet, but it still remains that the Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful had personally informed workers of AirtelTigo that “the deal is done” and latest by February they will know the name of the new buyer.

Meanwhile, the various agencies and partners of AirtelTigo have also been informed about the coming of the new buyer and the forthcoming rebranding of the company.

It is still not clear if the brand colours will be changed or maintained, but the sources say the name AirtelTigo will be completely done away with.

Meanwhile, workers are very much upbeat about the coming of the new buyer because, it is relieves them from more than one year of anxiety about their future in the company, since it was acquired by government in 2021.

The source said, like the workers of Vodafone Ghana, the staff of AirtelTigo are also confident of job security since government has interest in the company, and would not want job loses to hang around its neck as part of the deal.

Government took over AirtelTigo in 2021 for only US$1, when the two telcos which merged to form the company, India’s Bharti Airtel (Airtel) and Sweden’s Millicom Cellular International BV (Tigo) left the country.

Since the merger, the company has still not been doing so well on the market, as it is reportedly heavily indebted to tower companies, particularly ATC Ghana, while it keeps losing subscribers consistently.

Last year, Globacom Ghana, another telco which had also not been doing so well on the market, migrated all of its over 800,000 customers to the AirtelTigo platform. So, now Glo customers have become AirtelTigo customers and the Glo network is now dormant, even though the company still holds its license, at least until July this year.

This also comes at a time when the National Communications Authority (NCA) only recently approved the sale of majority shares in Vodafone Ghana to Telecel Group, after a roller coaster process, in which the NCA initially claimed the deal did not meet regulatory requirements and Telecel did not have the technical and financial muscles to do the job.

Government’s initial plan, which many industry experts supported, was to merge AirtelTigo, Glo and Vodafone into one entity to compete with the runaway market leader, MTN Ghana, in a duopoly.

But those plans seem to have been shelves for now, as it is now clear that there will three main players on the market – MTN, Telecel and whichever entity has acquired AirtelTigo.

Meanwhile, government continues to hold 30% shares in Ghana Telecoms (Telecel Ghana), but it is still not clear what the shareholding structure is with the new equity partner in AirtelTigo.

Telecel has meanwhile made it public that in the next five years, it will launch an IPO (initial public offer) and float shares in the company for private companies and individual to acquire shares in the company. What that will mean for government 30% share in Ghana Telecoms is still not clear.

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