Telkom’s share price fell by almost 6% on Monday to R19,11 to close at its low of the day and at a fresh eight-year low as investors continued taking fright over the operator’s poor financial performance and government’s controversial decision not to support a deal with Korea’s KT Corp against the management team’s advice.
The company’s share price is now down by nearly 17% in a month, by 21,5% over three months and a staggering 45,3% over the past year.
Its market capitalisation has sunk to below R10bn, meaning it’s now worth less than 7% of Vodacom, in which it held a 50% stake until 2009. Analysts are concerned that the company is pouring billions of rand into 8ta, its mobile start-up, in a cellular market that has reached more than 100% Sim card penetration.
Telkom said on Friday that it would reposition 8ta as a mobile broadband provider rather than focusing mainly on voice services and that it would build a fourth-generation mobile network based on long-term evolution technology. It was working on plans for this network with KT Corp before government said it would not vote in favour of the plan to sell 20% of the company’s equity to the Koreans under the terms proposed by the two companies.
Announcing its annual results last week, group CEO Nombulelo Moholi said Telkom would suspend dividend payments to stakeholders — government is the biggest loser of this decision since it holds 39,8% of Telkom’s equity — because of the poor financial performance and the need to reinvest cash in its network.
Telkom wants to rejuvenate its network by replacing ageing infrastructure and provide higher-speed fixed-line broadband access to its ADSL subscribers. It’s spending an estimated R13bn over the next five years on this project. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
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