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Deal under wraps

Geraldine Panapasa
Friday, December 21, 2012

VODAFONE Fiji remains tight-lipped on revelations that it could soon manage Papua New Guinea mobile company, bemobile.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill made public on Tuesday that 'other' shareholders of bemobile were selling their shares to Vodafone Fiji and the Fiji National Provident Fund.

According to the Post Courier, Mr O'Neill said the national government had increased its state shareholding to over 50 per cent and agreed for Vodafone Fiji to manage bemobile.

While Mr O'Neill had confirmed the PNG government was not selling their shares, he said Vodafone and FNPF had been tasked to manage bemobile on the shareholders behalf.

FNPF chief executive officer Aisake Taito gave some indication the revelations could be true.

"FNPF is finalising the working details with all relevant stakeholders. We will make the announcement and all the necessary disclosures when appropriate, most likely in early 2013," he said.

Bemobile acting chief executive officer Michael Ah Koy and Vodafone Fiji could not elaborate on the development when contacted this week.

"The stakeholders will make a proper press release at the appropriate time," Mr Ah Koy said from PNG.

Meanwhile, Vodafone Fiji was praised by Mr O'Neill for its management skills in the market environment and dominance in the mobile phone market share in Fiji.

"It is good for us to utilise them (Vodafone) to make bemobile profitable, competitive and pricing to our consumers is lower because of better competition between operators in this industry," Mr O'Neill told Post Courier.

"Bemobile management has not been able to deliver on their commitments they have made to government.

"We have decided that to rebuild communication particularly Telikom in the country, it was necessary for us to maintain the investment in bemobile rather than investing in a third mobile network."

According to the paper, PNG's Cabinet had approved the increase in bemobile shares to ensure the government still maintained controlling interest in the company.





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