We don’t need a knight in shining armour – Telkom CEO

Serame Taukobong

Telkom CEO Serame Taukobong said they are open to proposals but don’t need rescuing from MTN or former CEO Sipho Maseko’s consortium.

His comments came after media reports that Maseko’s Afrifund had the backing of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Mauritius-based Axian Telecom to buy a 35% stake in Telkom.

The 35% stake could be combined with the PIC’s current 13.6% shareholding to further boost the group’s overall holding.

The Maseko consortium reportedly offered R46 a share for a controlling stake in Telkom, but it was rejected as too low.

Business Times reported that Telkom and the Maseko Consortium are still in discussions, and a revised offer has been presented. However, it is not materially different from the original one.

MTN, which previously wanted to buy Telkom, is also waiting in the wings should an opportunity arise.

Telkom confirmed it had received an unsolicited non-binding indicative letter from the Maseko consortium for acquiring a controlling stake in Telkom.

The Telkom Board of Directors is assessing the merit of the bid in accordance with its fiduciary duties.

Telkom has requested the Maseko Consortium to provide further clarity on several matters, including the proposed offer price and funding certainty.

During its latest results presentation, Taukobong said they do not need a knight in shining armour to save Telkom, be it his former employee Sipho Maseko or his former employer MTN.

He said Telkom has the right levels of liquidity and does not need to sell to achieve its strategic value-unlock initiatives.

He added that an independent board had been formed to consider proposals, and they focussed on two things:

  • Is the offer reflective of Telkom’s market value?
  • Is the entity able to execute its proposition?

These questions have not produced satisfactory answers to date, and Telkom has, therefore, not accepted any offers.

In the case of the Maseko consortium offer, Taukobong said no due diligence was done, and that is where the matter had ended.

“The board remains firm that the journey we have undertaken for the business will deliver true results for Telkom,” he said.

MTN’s chief sustainability and corporate affairs officer, Nompilo Morafo, said there is no offer or official discussions with Telkom at the moment.

“Telkom is a business with good assets. MTN remains of the view that the offer made in July 2022 would have been good for shareholders of both companies and broader stakeholders,” she said.