Oger to renew Telkom offer

Istanbul - Dubai-based telecom operator Oger Telecom will renew its offer to South Africa's largest telecoms operator Telkom after Telkom turned down a first proposal, said Oger Chief Executive Paul Doany.

Telkom said on Monday it would not consider the sale of the group, or any of its units or joint ventures, without a "strategic rationale", and therefore rejected Oger's undisclosed proposal on grounds it was not in the shareholders' interest.

But Doany, also chairman of land-line operator Turk Telekom, told Reuters they planned a fresh offer that will benefit all stakeholders.

"We will continue to seek to engage with Telkom in order to assess whether a value-creating transaction for all parties can be agreed including Oger Telecom, Cell C, our South African partners (CellSAf), and of course the shareholders and stakeholders of Telkom," he said in an interview.

"We believe that our proposal is a clear win-win-win for all stakeholders. We will be making new proposals at the appropriate time," said Doany, speaking in an exclusive hotel by the Bosphorus strait.

Oger, controlled by the family of late Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, also operates in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan, providing fixed-line, mobile and internet services.

Doany said their Telkom offer, which was for a "substantial minority stake with management control", would aim at merging Oger's South African mobile subsidiary Cell C with Telkom's fixed business.

Strategic rationale

Doany dismissed Telkom's concerns that Oger's offer did not have a strategic rationale, which he said was "precisely the basis of the offer from Oger Telecom."

Doany said Oger wanted to create a structure in South Africa similiar to that in Turkey, where it has a controlling 55% stake in Turk Telekom and 81-percent in Avea, Turkey's third-largest mobile operator.

"The joint operation of the No. 1 fixed-line operator and No. 3 mobile operator is a very good combination, similar to Telkom and Cell C.

"Great synergies are created and this is ideal in terms of competition, particularly in convergence, ADSL and IPTV services" he said.

"We are producing good results in Turkey and we want to have the same in South Africa because the two markets resemble each other in many ways," he said.

"We fully support the expansion plans of Telkom in the African continent, with South Africa being a natural for such expansion, focusing on segments hitherto neglected by other operators, whose primary focus has been GSM."

Talks between Telkom and South African mobile phone operator MTN over the sale of the former's fixed-line business were called off in November, also scuppering Telkom's hopes of selling its 50% stake in Vodacom to joint owner Vodafone.

Telkom said talks to sell part of its mobile phone assets to Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company by revenue, had hinged on a successful deal to sell all or some of its fixed-line assets to MTN.

- Reuters

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