Pule meets with Telkom board

The communications minister says she is "confident" the group's board will help government achieve its "developmental goals".

Communications minister Dina Pule

Communications minister Dina Pule is “confident” that the board of Telkom will “help the state achieve its developmental goals” while ensuring that the telecommunications group remains “commercially sustainable”.

Pule made the remarks in a written statement following her first meeting with Telkom’s board since Jabu Mabuza was appointed as chairman 10 days ago.

The minister met with Telkom board members on Monday “to listen to their plans and update them about government’s strategic priorities,” she says in a statement.

“The meeting also served to strengthen the ties between government and the board of Telkom,” Pule says. “Today’s engagement went very well.”

The meeting comes a week after Mabuza warned that it was not up to government to devise a strategy for Telkom or for it to impose its will on the company. Rather, he said, it was up to management, through the board, to develop a strategy and sell that to all shareholders, including government.

Telkom’s strategy, Mabuza said, would, however, be informed by government policies. “I don’t see government as a shareholder any differently to the other shareholders. I see government as the policy-setting body in the country.”

Government holds a direct 39,8% stake in Telkom; its pension fund administrator, the PIC, holds another 10,9%.

Pule has put forward a number of proposals to cabinet, including a recommendation on what she believes should happen to Telkom. One of the options that had been under consideration is the nationalisation of the company by government buying out minority shareholders and delisting the company from the JSE. It’s not known if that is one of the proposals submitted or when cabinet will make a decision.

The meeting with Telkom directors comes after Pule last month used the operator’s annual general meeting of shareholders to vote against the election or reelection of four of its nonexecutive directors, including lead independent nonexecutive Sibusiso Luthuli. The move left Telkom without a chairman for several weeks.

Pule says her meeting with Telkom on Monday forms part of the regular series of such meetings that she holds with “various stakeholders” of the department.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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