Emirati Company Takes Control of Telkom Kenya as Helios Exits

The Government of Kenya (GoK) has announced a significant development in the telecommunications sector: Infrastructure Corporation of Africa LLC (ICA), an UAE-based firm – will acquire majority stake in Telkom Kenya. This pivotal moment marks the journey for this telecommunications company; it has faced not only financial challenges but also ownership disputes.

London’s Helios Investment Partners, a private equity fund formerly holding a 60 percent stake in Telkom Kenya, decided to exit the venture. The preceding year saw an exit by Helios from the telecommunication company through a payment of Sh6.09 billion nevertheless which brought about the complexity that met this departure with both involved parties expressing dissatisfaction with the terms.

The government’s involvement:

Concerned about the structure of the exit deal, the Kenyan government chose to intervene in August 2022 it withdrew Sh6.09 billion – a strategic move that demonstrated its proactive stance; furthermore, opting for an innovative approach–not selling Telkom as a parastatal but rather seeking out new majority shareholder ship with intent to revitalize company operations.

The Role of the UAE Firm:

Following a competitive process that commenced in January 2023, Infrastructure Corporation of Africa LLC (ICA) emerged as Telkom Kenya’s favored choice for a new majority shareholder. The entry of ICA vows to infuse vital capital into Telkom, thereby bolstering infrastructure development and facilitating overall enhancements.

Commitments in Finance:

The UAE firm and the Kenyan government both commit to providing financial support for Telkom Kenya. As a minority shareholder, who also heavily consumes the telco’s services, the government ensures its financial stability through its contribution. Moreover, they’ve pledged not only an undisclosed reform but actively implement it in telecommunications sectors – all with consumer benefits at heart.

We are addressing past issues.

Helios departed due to his dissatisfaction with the government’s refusal to approve a proposed joint venture between Telkom Kenya and Airtel Kenya; an endeavor aimed at enhancing competition against industry leader Safaricom. Moreover, Helios was frastrated in the decision to expropriate Telkom’s prime property for a sports ground.

Exit Deal: Complexity Explored.

The original exit deal involved a refund of Sh6.1 billion to the government; these required negotiations, and – crucially – the identification of a third-party buyer for shares. As part of this transactional arrangement, Helios received only nominal compensation—specifically $1 from the government—and in turn relinquished an additional amount: $51 million that was originally extended as shareholder loans by them. Moreover, Orange’s inheritance also saw it sacrifice–a substantial sum totaling up at approximately $239 million which Helios chose not to claim when bequeathed in 2016.

Concerns over National Security:

A crucial aspect significantly influencing the government’s decision. Notably, Telkom Kenya is presumed as indispensable especially in delivering key institutional communication services to several vital entities; these include–but are not limited to–the Office of the President, State House, and Ministry of Interior. With emphasis on safeguarding critical state functions, The National Security Council (NSC) indeed sanctioned this agreement.

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