LIBTELCO’S Offer to Buy Novafone ‘Off the Table’

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The attempt by the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LIBTELCO) to purchase Novafone is “off the table,” the Daily Observer has reliably learnt.

The Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Ms. Angelique Weeks, told this newspaper in an exclusive interview yesterday that the LIBTELCO bid to buy Novafone will not hold because the deal is now “off the table.”

Ms. Weeks declined to go into details about the failure of the deal to go through. She said she preferred the newspaper to contact directly the parties concerned and let them speak for themselves.

The Daily Observer contacted Mr. Abdullah L. Kamara, Novafone’s Executive Vice President for Operations, to comment on the cancellation of LIBTELCO’s purchase deal, but he said he “could neither confirm nor deny” that the deal was “off the table.”

He said several companies had approached Novafone with the intention of buying the company, and these included Orange Cote d’Ivoire, the subsidiary of the French-based GSM giant Orange that recently purchased CELLCOM, the Liberian GSM giant.

Asked why Novafone was for sale, Mr. Kamara replied that perhaps the company’s owners felt that a company such as theirs needed considerable resources from multiple resource channels to reinvest in order to expand and develop. He denied that the company was broke, saying that Novafone had stabilized its earnings within three years and was doing well.

Who owns Novafone? the Daily Observer asked Mr. Kamara. He replied, “I know where you are going, but all I can say is that our company is owned by a Lebanese firm name COSMO–TELL.

This newspaper tried to contact LIBTELCO Managing Director Sebastian Muah to find out why the deal had been pulled off the table, but was unable to reach him by mobile phone as his phone was “switched off.” The Daily Observer learned that LIBTELCO was not financially strong enough to purchase Novafone.

Unconfirmed reports said that the Liberian government had approached the National Social Security Corporation (NASSCORP) to put up the US$10 million to buy Novafone.

This newspaper contacted NASSCORP Managing Director Rudolf von Ballmoos for his reaction and he said he doesn’t know where the idea came from that the government had told NASSCORP to put up money for LIBTELCO to buy Novafone. He termed it as a “black lie and total fiction.” He said he’s been reading it in other newspapers but there has been no discussion whatsoever between NASSCORP, the government or anyone else concerning this matter, and he therefore knows nothing about it.

Meanwhile, LTA Chairman Weeks vehemently denied knowing anything about a Lone Star Communication bid to purchase Novafone for US$30 million.

“This was totally false and even nonsensical,” she said.

But a key Lone Star official told this newspaper emphatically that his company had made the offer to buy Novafone for US$30 million, but this had been flatly refused, and he put the blame squarely at the feet of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority.

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