Telkom Kenya Chief Unaware of France Telecoms Exit Plans

Telkom Kenya chief executive Mickael Ghossein has denied knowledge of reported Africa exit plans by its parent company France Telecoms.

Telkom CEO Mickael Ghossein. Photo/Diana Ngila

Telkom CEO Mickael Ghossein. Photo/Diana Ngila

A London-based online publication TMT Finance Thursday reported that France Telecoms — which is better known by its trade name Orange — is planning an exit from several markets in Africa where its operations are weak.

The publication further said the French firm has appointed financial advisory firm Lazard to find a buyer for its mobile telecommunications business in Uganda, adding that next on sale could be Telkom Kenya, which has been struggling against larger rivals Safaricom and Airtel.

“No idea about this article,” said Mr Ghossein in response to Business Daily queries.

France Telecoms owns 70 per cent of Telkom Kenya while the Treasury has a 30 per cent stake in the company that was until 2007 fully State-owned.

In its annual performance results announced Thursday, France Telecoms reported growth in revenue of its African business, partly helping to offset a decline posted by its European operations.

Orange Africa operations include Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Senegal.

The multinational singled out its operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Senegal as those registering positive growth in its financials for the year ending December 31, 2013, where it posted a 4.5 per cent revenue decline to 40.981 billion euros.

“Aside from Uganda, which is thought to be the only geography where an official process is underway, this could also include Orange’s mobile businesses in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger, among others,” wrote TMT Finance.

The publication said South Africa’s MTN could be angling for the Uganda Orange business. France Telecoms attributed decline in revenue to regulatory measures and heightened competition in mobile services business in the main European countries.

“Africa and the Middle East reported growth of 4.7 per cent generated mainly by Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. Revenues in Europe were down 2.8 per cent marked by reductions in mobile service prices in Belgium and Slovakia,” read part of the group’s financial statement released Thursday.

Latest industry statistics from Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) indicate that Orange has the lowest number of subscribers 2.2 million (7.1 per cent market share by subscribers), compared to Safaricom with 20.8 million (66.5 per cent).

– Business Daily