The Government of Kenya has acquired a 60 percent stake in Telkom Kenya worth KES 6.09 billion from British Investment firm, Helios Investment Partners. The State which previously owned 40 per cent stake in Telkom now owns the company fully.
First reported by Capital FM news, a senior government official confirmed the British firm’s exit. “It is true Helios has exited Telkom…Telkom is now owned fully by the Government of Kenya because Helios has offloaded its 60 per cent stake.”
The deal, which now puts Telkom Kenya’s valuation at KES 10 billion, marks a rare return of a privatised company to State ownership, derailing initial plans for the listing of Telkom Kenya at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) through an initial public offering (IPO).
A source at the Treasury who spoke to the Business Daily said, “We bought the shares for Sh6 billion after Helios threatened to quit,”
“We bought the shares because the government was afraid Helios was going to sell to an investor that did share the same vision with us in the turnaround of Telkom Kenya.”
In a market where Safaricom has been enjoying dominance, Telkom Kenya has been losing subscribers in recent years. The operator’s mobile phone subscribers dropped from 4.23 million users in 2019 to 3.42 million in June this year, representing a 19.1 percent decline, while its rivals Airtel and Safaricom have gained customers.
It is believed that the proposed merger between Airtel and Telkom which fell through may have accelerated Helios’ exit. In August 2020, Telkom said it was no longer looking to merge its business with Airtel, citing challenges of securing the required regulatory approvals for the deal.
“Helios told us they were no longer interested in the venture immediately after the Airtel deal collapsed,” said the Treasury source.