Telkom to auction 53 more properties

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Telkom is auctioning 53 of its properties around the country, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The company that has done most of Telkom’s auctions in recent years, GoIndustry DoveBid, has listed the properties - which include vacant land, as well as double-storey and single-storey commercial and industrial buildings - on its website, and indicated that the bids will open on 13 March and close on 18 March 2020.

The disposal of the buildings is nationwide, from Johannesburg to King Williams Town, Mokopane and Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. The new auction follows hot on the heels of the disposal of 34 other properties in November last year. The latter were also auctioned by GoIndustry DoveBid and included properties in Kwazulu Natal, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Telkom’s 2019 integrated report shows that the company had an in-house portfolio of 1 332 properties by the end of March last year. But the company indicated that it was in the process of disposing non-core properties. Telkom had decommissioned 62 properties that were no longer required for its operational purposes and had planned to sell these.

Telkom spokesperson, Noma Faku, said the decommissioning of Telkom’s exchange properties is an ongoing process as technology evolves, because fibre requires much less space. When properties are decommissioned, the group’s recently formed real estate unit, Gyro and Openserve, assesses whether they can be converted into something that will generate revenues for Telkom, such as shopping centres or residential properties. Those that can’t are then disposed of.

"Telkom, through Gyro and Openserve, has embarked on a decommissioning and disposal of properties programme for properties that are deemed to be non-core to operations and have no commercialisation potential (redevelopment or development potential). This is an ongoing process as we continue to modernise our network and optimise our property portfolio," she said.

But the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents some of Telkom’s workers, said given Telkom’s plan to retrench 3 000 workers, these recent auctions showed that the company was employing all sorts of tactics to boost its profits.

"This confirms the union’s allegation that the current Telkom management and the board have run out of ideas and are only thriving on creating artificial profits, yet failed to build capacity and growth within the telecoms space," said the union in a statement.

The CWU said some of the properties up for the auction were currently occupied by the SA Post Office (SAPO). The union also represents SAPO employees.

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