Bemobile gets cash injection as government steps in


The Papua New Guinea Government has increased its stake in mobile phone company Bemobile, following the collapse of a deal with the Fiji National Provident Fund.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.52.19 PMThe PNG government last week authorised the Independent Public Business Corporation to increase its shareholding from 47 per cent to 85 per cent. The IPBC is investing US$85 million (K220 million) in Bemobile to recapitalise the telco, and will take four positions on the board.

The move follows the Fiji National Provident Fund’s withdrawal in August from its agreement to buy 50% of the company.

State Enterprises Minister Ben Micah has said he would like to offer Bemobile up for public subscription within two years, which would make the telco the first state-owned enterprise to be floated on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange.

Syd Yates, the outgoing Chairman of the mobile phone company, says the timing of the company’s proposed public float would depend on how the company was performing.

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Outgoing Bemobile Chairman Syd Yates

Outgoing Bemobile Chairman Syd Yates

‘My point of view is that it is achievable, but it will really depend on the performance of the business; that it has established a consistent rate of return and a sound platform to move forward,’ Yates told Business Advantage PNG.

The immediate plan, says Yates, is that Bemobile management, headed by Acting Chief Executive Officer Raj Deo, will stabilise the network and continue its plans to upgrade technology.

Some industry sources estimate Bemobile has about 10 per cent of the PNG’s mobile phone market, behind market leader Digicel PNG.

The remaining 15% of BeMobile is owned by the Asian Development Bank, PNG Sustainable Development Program, Steamships, Nasfund, Nambawan Super and Hong Kong-based GEMS.