The planned merger of Airtel and Telkom Kenya has been suspended following an order from Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
The EACC is extending its investigation into the deal, and as such as ordered the relevant authorities to put proceedings on hold, causing the merger to miss its expected completion date of 27th September.
Announced in February this year, the proposed merger would see Kenya’s second and third largest operators combine to compete more effectively against the market leader Safaricom by streamlining their expenditure and boosting scalability. However, the EACC’s decision is not the first obstacle faced by the merger.
In March, the deal was criticised by a committee in Kenya’s National Assembly for allowing a public company to be acquired by private interests “through the backdoor for a song”. The committee noted that the plan had “all the hallmarks of a scandal”.
The following month, Telkom Kenya noted that it would not accept liability for Airtel’s debt if the merger went through, prompting Safaricom to call for regulators to investigate the terms of the deal more thoroughly.