MPs seek clarity on Airtel, Telkom deal

The planned merger of Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya could run into headwinds after MPs called the deal into question, claiming taxpayers could lose money.

The proposal to form a single joint venture company to be named Airtel-Telkom was announced on February 8.

Telkom is majority owned (60 per cent) by the UK-based private equity firm Helios Investment Partners while the Government has a 40 per cent stake.

MPs want Cabinet secretaries Henry Rotich (National Treasury) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) as well as Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and officials from the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Telkom Kenya and Competition Authority of Kenya to explain Telkom’s true worth to ensure taxpayers were not short-changed.

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The lawmakers claimed that a powerful local investor was planning to buy off Airtel Kenya shares to reap from the impending deal.

The National Assembly Implementation Committee, chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel Ole Kenta, has adopted the special report on Telkom’s recapitalisation and balance sheet restructuring of April 2014 by the Public Investments Committee and lined up specific officers for questioning.

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi raised the matter before the committee. A member who did not want to be named said those summoned would shed light on the financial health of Telkom to ensure taxpayers did not lose money in the merger.

Privatisation stage

“The officials have been summoned by the committee to explain why the report tabled in the House in 2014 and adopted in 2015 has not been implemented,” said the MP.

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The National Assembly Implementation Committee report had observed that there was lack of clarity about the market valuation of Telkom even at the privatisation stage.

“The basis of the value of Sh50.98 billion that was used at the time of privatisation of TKL is not known and has never been made public,” said the report.

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Airtel KenyaTelkom KenyaMPsJoe MucheruHenry RotichEACC