19 JUNE 2002
By Kurt Sansone
The firms that had registered an interest in Maltacoms divestiture of its 20 per cent shareholding in Vodafone Malta Limited will shortly start a due diligence process, which will be followed by the presentation of a binding final offer.
Maltacom Group Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Muscat told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the process is being handled by Maltacoms advisors, N.M. Rothschild and Bank of Valletta. The Malta Communications Authority is being kept informed of developments.
Contacted by this newspaper MCA chairman Joseph V. Tabone said that he was satisfied with the way the process was moving ahead. He confirmed that a deadline has been set for the divestiture but reiterated that it was not in the shareholders interest for such a deadline to be divulged, owing to the sensitive nature of the process.
Meanwhile, Maltacoms CEO explained that potential investors had to follow a timetable before presenting their final offer. Mr Muscat added that Maltacoms advisors would analyse the final bids and the company will then decide whether to accept the offers or not. The CEO expressed satisfaction with the status and quality of the firms who offered a non-binding price.
Mr Muscat pointed out that the final bid would have to be presented to the other shareholders in Vodafone Malta Limited, who according to the Memorandum & Articles of Association have pre-emption rights when shares are for sale.
In Maltacoms quarterly report for shareholders, published on 11 June 2002 the company said that the investment in VML is to be disposed of shortly and therefore no portion of the associate's (VML) results for the quarter was accounted for.
Mr Muscat added that Maltacom used to take a share of the value of Vodafone Malta Limited in its books. But since December 2000, when Go Mobile started to operate, no share of VML equity could be taken. The only benefit of Maltacom's investment in VML taken in Maltacom's accounts was any dividend received from VML.
Mr Muscat reiterated that Maltacom will strive to obtain a fair valuation when it decides to divest its 20 per cent shareholding in VML.
The divestiture process took off in January 2002 when Maltacom issued a public call in both the International and Maltese print media for organisations who were ready to register a non-binding interest to purchase Maltacom's 20 per cent stake in Vodafone Malta Limited. Subsequently no less than 14 organisations registered an interest and after signing the necessary confidentiality agreements, they were given a Preliminary Information Memorandum.
Mr Muscat explained that this document was studied by the Maltese and foreign organisations and on 24 May 2002 a number of these firms presented a non-binding bid to Maltacoms advisors.