Oct 16, 2015 News
The Chinese buyer of the 20 per cent shares, once owned by the Government of Guyana in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), is currently being treated as the minority shareholder in the company.
As such, the company receives all payable dividends, this despite the fact it is yet to finish paying for the shares.
GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd, confirmed for this publication that GT&T has recorded in its financials, the Hong Kong-based, Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group.
Asked what amounts have been paid to the Chinese company thus far in dividends earned on the 20 per cent shares, Nedd said he could not provide specifics, but did point out that dividends are paid to shareholders based on a decision by the board.
The sale of the Government-owned shares in GT&T was handled by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) which managed ownership of the shares on behalf of Government.
Those shares were sold in 2012 by NICIL to Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, a Hong Kong-based company with a sale price of US$30M.
Of that amount the company paid US$25M. The remaining US$5M was supposed to have been paid over within a two-year period but this did not happen.
Available records do not reflect a payment from Datang that constitutes a final payment for the shares government had owned in the telephone company.
This publication was reliably informed that as at December 31, last, the final tranche of payment was not made to NICIL.
The then Guyana Government had also found itself on the receiving end of a barrage of criticism, when it was discovered that the money secured through the Datang deal with NICIL, was in fact used to press ahead with the construction of the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
At the time construction had already started on the Marriott with the contractor, Shanghai Construction Group.
Compounding the situation also, was the fact that the Chinese buyer at the time of the sale had never visited Guyana to inspect GT&T’s infrastructure and service, neither did it request a copy of the company’s financials for any kind of scrutiny.
Up until the sale, the government was receiving from GT&T, an annual dividend of US$2.5M, making it the most successful investment ever undertaken by any administration in this country.
When the shares were initially placed on the market, GT&T employees had offered to buy them but this was rejected by the then government which was adamant that the shares had to be purchased en bloc.
The name Datang had also previously remained largely obscured as a result of a confidential agreement which was entered into in early 2011 with the government, and only came to light following the finalization of the sale.
Datang had come in for scrutiny after it was discovered that the company actually featured in a US intelligence report as a company with links to the Chinese Military and was accused of spying.
The Pentagon had reported that “Information technology companies in particular, including Huawei, Datang and Zhongxing, maintain close ties to the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” the report says.”
Datang is one of China’s showpiece hi-tech companies that specialises in the development, production and sale of electronic information systems and equipment. Founded in 1999, the company is reportedly managed by the Chinese State-run Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.
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