No plans to sell govt shares in Vodafone — Minister

The government has no plans of selling its 30 per cent shareholding in the Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited which now operates as Vodafone Ghana, the Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has told Parliament.

She said Vodafone Ghana, which owned 70 per cent in the entity it acquired from the state, transferred its stake to the Telecel Group in February 2013.

The minister disclosed that when she responded to a question by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, who asked whether the government had any plans of selling its shares in Vodafone Ghana.

The MP also sought to know whether the consent of the minority shareholder — the government of Ghana — was sought in the sale of the 70 per cent to the Telecel Group.

Responding, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful told the House that under the shareholders’ agreement, the consent of the minority shareholder was not “required” for Vodafone Ghana to transfer or sell its shareholding in Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited.

“Consequent is not required under the terms of the shareholders’ agreement,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, who is also the MP for Ablekuma West, retorted.

Appearing unhappy with the response, Mr Dafeamekpor described the minister’s answer as “surprising” because in Company Law such disclosure of shares transfer was one of the key requirements.

He, therefore, pressed the MP if she could tell the House the amount or value for the sale of the 70 per cent shares that Vodafone Ghana received in transferring its shares to the Telecel Group.

In answering, the minister stopped short of disclosing the amount on the grounds that such request for value of shares was not sought.

“Mr Speaker, the question was specific whether the government has any plans of selling its shares in Vodafone Ghana Limited and the answer has also been specific that the government has no such plans.

“If the honorable member requires further information, I suggest that he files a substantive question to which I will come and respond.

I do not have that information on top of my head,” she said. Make agreement available.

Intervening, the NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George, accused the minister of actually blocking the initial sale of the 70 per cent.

He said the National Communications Authority, the regulator of the telecommunications industry, acting under the authority of the minister, blocked the initial sale.

“And so, if subsequently that same entity that blocked the sale came back again and now, they have been handed 70 per cent, it could not be on the blind side without the consent of the minority shareholders,” he said.

Mr George, therefore, joined the call for the minister to provide the House with copies of the 70 per cent agreement.

What’s value of sale?

The former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who was also a former Minister of Communications, recalled how the Vodafone Ghana’s sales and purchase agreement was laid before the House in 2008.

He said per the shareholder agreement, Vodafone Ghana had 70 per cent shareholding while the government of Ghana had 30 per cent.

He said while the minister, in her answer, told the House that Vodafone Ghana had sold off its share of 70 per cent to Telecel Group, she was unable to tell the House the amount or value of the 70 per cent.

“Mr Speaker, my difficulty is to value the 70 per cent in any sale or purchase agreement, you must have valued the 100 per cent before you can sell off 70 per cent and leave 30 per cent.

As the Minister of Communication, Mr Iddrisu said, the minister represented the government of Ghana’s interest of 30 per cent and, therefore, questioned why she did not have knowledge of the value of 70 per cent transferred.

Source: Nana Konadu Agyeman (Graphic online)