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Stakeholder frustration builds over pending Tigo-Airtel Ghana merger

Ghana , 15 Sep 2017

Stakeholder frustration builds over pending Tigo-Airtel Ghana merger

Adding to mounting dissatisfaction among stakeholders over delays, the proposed merger between Airtel Ghana and Tigo is being held back because several processes still need to be completed and additional information is required for review, according to Ghana's National Communications Authority (NCA).

The NCA confirmed that both companies want to go ahead with the merger, announced in March, and the delay had nothing to do with either party wanting to back out of the deal.

The regulator said it has requested additional undisclosed information for review, which sources say covers the fate of the government's 25% stake in Airtel.

There is also speculation over who would fill the position as MD of the new venture, with local media reporting Roshi Motman, CEO of Tigo, as the most likely candidate.

This has fuelled further speculation over the future of Airtel's management structure, currently headed up by Managing Director Lucy Quist.

According to figures released by the NCA, once the merger is approved, the new venture will emerge as the second largest operator in Ghana (behind MTN).

Local news outlets have reported that the government is demanding a stake in the new company prior to final approval.

Ten years ago the government sold 75% of its shares in Westel to MTC Group which operated Zain. Zain was later acquired by Airtel in 2010.

Over the years, the government held a 25% stake in Airtel through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

There are also concerns regarding spectrum utilisation should the merger be approved.

The NCA will decide whether to allow the new company to utilise the spectrums currently held by Airtel and Tigo, or allow the new outfit to choose one of the spectrums, or to withdraw both spectrums thus compelling the new outfit to apply (and pay) for a new spectrum.

This last option is entirely legal action if the NCA decides to enforce the 'non-transferable' clause in its spectrum allocation terms.

The NCA is not responded to requests for comment.

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