Cameroon: battle of shareholders for the control of Nexttel, Vietnam’s most successful subsidiary Viettel in Africa

This is again the escalation between the shareholders of mobile operator Viettel Cameroon which operates under the brand Nexttel. According to internal sources, the company is almost divided into two camps, made up on the one hand by the followers of Baba Danpullo, the Cameroonian billionaire who controls 30% of Nexttel’s capital, through Bestinver Cameroon SA, and secondly by supporters of Viettel Global Investment SA, telecoms group under the cut of the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense, which owns 70% of the assets of the 3 rd mobile operator in Cameroon.

The deleterious climate that reigns in this telecoms company is such that, we learn from good sources, the last commercial and marketing director, recruited after nearly a year of vacancy, could only hold three months before finally slamming the door.

At the origin of this battle between the two shareholders of Nexttel, accusations of unilateral management of the company, materialized by the refusal of the leaders of Viettel Global Investment SA to establish the principle of the double signature, it is argued at Bestinver Cameroon SA, which also accuses the Vietnamese side of massively importing labor, to the detriment of Cameroonians who would be marginalized by the majority shareholder.

In response to these accusations, the Vietnamese group issued a statement on 1 st October 2018 to deny these ” false information .” ” Viettel Global Investment SA and its Cameroonian subsidiary, Viettel Cameroun SA, are committed to the interests of Cameroonians, bringing to the country advanced technologies and expertise in telecommunications management, creating jobs, while respecting Cameroonian laws and regulations, “ said Do Manh Hung, CEO and legal representative of Viettel Global Investment SA.

And the Vietnamese group to specify that ” among the 1,000 employees working at Viettel Cameroun SA, Cameroonians represent 94% of the workforce and the management team is composed of 85% of Cameroonians. Vietnamese employees work side by side with their local colleagues and try to train and transfer technology to local employees  . “

According to Viettel Global Investment SA, the bickering with the Cameroonian partner, which some internal sources suspected of operating to take full control of Nexttel by ousting Vietnamese partners, are rooted in the company’s promising prospects. ” The truth is that Viettel Cameroun SA, which has inherited the solid, standardized and sustainable investment from Viettel Global Investment SA, has experienced spectacular growth since the beginning of its activities four years ago,  ” said the Vietnamese group. .

Indeed, in the first half of 2016, Cameroon became the first market of the Viettel group in Africa, with global revenues of 21 billion CFA francs (35.9 million US dollars), against 25 million US dollars for Halotel ( Viettel’s Tanzanian subsidiary), $ 33 million for Movitel in Mozambique and $ 18.26 million for Lumitel (Burundi). In addition, at the end of June 2018, Nexttel claims nearly 5 million subscribers, against 6.6 million for MTN Cameroon and 6.5 million for Orange Cameroon, two competitors arrived on the Cameroonian mobile market, 15 years earlier.

Nexttel’s performance, which is likely to further sharpen shareholders’ appetites, was made possible by a strategy of penetrating the market by covering previously neglected rural areas. The same is true of the investments that enabled this company to build “the largest telecommunications infrastructure in the country, with 2,500 2G / 3G stations and 8,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables  ,” says the statement. also states thatUntil December 31, 2017, Viettel Global Investment SA has successfully invested CFAF 201 billion in its Cameroonian subsidiary, in the form of private equity (share capital, shareholder loans) and other types of commercial media.  ” .

Source: Agence Ecofin