Business News of Sunday, 13 August 2017
Adom News can confirm on authority that Sudan Telecom (Sudatel) has finally sold all of its shares in Kasapa Telecom Limited (Expresso Ghana) to a buyer who still remains a mystery.
The deal has been indicated on page nine of the company’s 2016 Third Quarter Financial Report dated September 2016 and published November 2016 on its website.
The Report stated clearly that shares held in a Kasapa Telecoms in 2015 was 82% but shares held in 2016 is 0%.
Adom News had earlier reported that Sudatel had admitted in its 2014 Fourth Quarter Financial Report that in 2013 it entered into a shares purchase agreement (SPA) with an unknown buyer, and the buyer initially paid $5 million for 18 per cent shares.
The remaining 82 per cent shares were transferred to an escrow agent pending the fulfillment of the conditions set out in the SPA for onward transfer to the mystery buyer.
Sudatel also stated categorically that “At December 31, 2014, the operations of Kasapa Company Limited (Expresso Ghana) have been classified as discontinuing operations and a disposal group constituted for the sale.” Indeed, the report on Kasapa Telecom Limited then was clearly labeled “DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS” in the Q4 2014 report.
Sudatel’s various financial reports indicate it has held 100% shares in Kasapa Telecoms (Expresso Ghana) since July 2008.
But the company has since been struggling to survive, largely because of international sanctions on Sudan, which made it difficult for Sudatel to transfer cash to recapitalize its Ghana operations.
As a result, the company has declined into insignificance over the past nine years and that has been characterized by the frequent change of Managing Director, the consistent monthly decline in customers, huge and numerous debts, months of unpaid salaries, staff agitations, and a number of legal battles over ownership.
The last caretaker Managing Director of the company was a former National Security Capo, Col. Larry Gbevlo. Currently, it is not clear who is at the helm of affairs at Expresso operationally, but popular senior Ghanaian Journalist and social commentator, Kwasi Pratt is the Board Chairman.
Frustrated workers, creditors, retailers
Currently, the workers of the company are still oblivious of who the new owners are, meanwhile months of salary arrears remain unpaid. When Adom News contacted a top management member of the company about the sale (name withheld), he admitted to being completely ignorant about the sale which was announced way back in November 2016 on the company’s website. Meanwhile, the company’s long list of creditors, including real estate owners, devices dealers, vendors, utility service providers and others have been chasing the company for debts.
The sole CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) players also continue to lose hold of its stake in the market as customers continue to abandon the network by the day due to bad service.
As of April 2017, it subscriber level had declined to a paltry 23,264, from about 400,000 at the time Sudatel took over.
Recently, recharge card retailers likened Expresso Ghana to the embattled micro finance company DKM, because the retailers said they invested heavily into Expresso products and now it has become bad debts for them because no one is buying those products and Expresso has also refused to take them back and refund their money.
Sudatel has still not announced who the buyer is and the telecoms regulator in Ghana, National Communications Authority (NCA) has also not been informed of the sale and who the buyer is.
Indeed, the NCA itself had said it has no formal notice of any transfer or sale of shares in Kasapa Telecom to and from Sudatel.
As of December 2013, the only company known to have gone into exclusive negotiations with Sudatel for the purchase of a Kasapa Telecom was Ghanaian-based Jospong Group’s Subah Infosolutions Limited.
Following the expose of conflict of interest in the Jospong Group’s attempt to buy Expresso the company came out to admit it wanted to buy Expresso but had pulled out.
That claim was subsequently confirmed by the then Expresso Ghana Managing Director, El Amir Ahmed El Amir in an exclusive letter to this writer.
Later on, it emerged, as per a press release on Sudatel’s website, that it had concluded the sale of Expresso Ghana to an unnamed buyer.
But Sudatel later denied that information as well, citing translational error, from Arabic to English, in their own press release.
The current Q3 Report on its zero per cent shares is in English and in figures so it is clear Sudatel has sold all of its shares in Kasapa Telecom. The buyer, however, still remains a mystery.