Teleology Holdings has emerged as the winning bidder for Uganda Telecom, the country’s state-owned operator.
The $71 million bid was accepted despite finance minister Evelyn Anite reportedly favouring Mauritius Telecom, which only bid $45 million. According to The Monitor, Anite raised concerns in a cabinet meeting that Teleology had neither the financial clout nor the required know-how to run a telecoms operator.
Teleology, which has also acquired 9mobile in Nigeria, won out against six other bidders – among them Afrinet Communications, Hamilton Telecom and Safaricom. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s decision was influenced by Teleology’s financial capability report – but an unnamed lobbyist reportedly also exerted significant pressure.
Following its win, Teleology has a month to pay a $700 million non-refundable upfront payment (10% of the total cost), with the remainder due after a further two months. The group will hold a 67% stake in Uganda Telecom, with the country’s government retaining the rest of the operator.
After Teleology acquired 9mobile, there was significant uncertainty over whether it would pay the balance on its bid, but it eventually came through. If it is unable to make the payments for this new bid, Uganda’s government will seek out another buyer for the stake.
Uganda Telecom has been under government control since March 2017, when the Libyan government relinquished its majority holding in the unit. The operator has substantial debt and has been losing subscribers, although its prospects improved in May 2018 when the government confirmed that it would allow the operator unrestricted access to state infrastructure.