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Kenya snaps up Helios’s 60% of Telkom for just $50 million

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The government of Kenya has bought the 60% of Telkom Kenya it did not already own by wiring the purchase price to London-based Helios Investment Partners.

The government paid 6.09 billion Kenyan shillings (US$50.4 million) for the stake, which means the Kenyan state now owns 100% of the company.

Helios Investment Partners has not responded to Capacity’s request for a comment on the transaction.

Helios acquired its stake – originally 70% – in 2016 from Orange, nine years after Orange bought it for $390 million.

The Nation Media Group’s Business Daily Africa reported a Kenyan government official saying: “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.”

Telkom Kenya is third in the market, with only 5%, a long way behind Safaricom, part of the Vodafone/Vodacom group, with 66%, and Airtel with 26%.

According to Business Daily Africa, which is quoting numbers from Kenya’s regulator, Telkom Kenya’s subscriber numbers have dropped from 4.23 million in 2019 to 3.42 million in June 2022, a 19.1% fall in a period when Airtel and Safaricom have gained customers.

The newspaper says that the state wired the 6.09 billion shillings to Helios, part of the 23 billion shillings that the Treasury spent with MPs’ approval between July and August. This was in the run-up to presidential elections, won by William Ruto on 13 September.

The paper says that the Treasury is now seeking approval for the payment from the country’s Parliamentary Budget Office.

Treasury sources told the paper that Helios lost interest in Telkom after a proposed merger with Airtel Kenya collapsed. Capacity has been unable to confirm that with Helios Investment Partners.

Helios has confirmed the sale by simply marking the Telkom Kenya page on its website with “Exited – September 2022”.