Government plans to sell Dhiraagu shares to foreigners, claims PPM

The government’s decision to offer 15 percent of its shareholdings in local telecom giant Dhiraagu for sale to the general public is intended to benefit foreign parties, the incipient Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) alleged today.

At a press conference this afternoon, PPM Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahlouf claimed that the party has learned through “inside information” that the government planned to sell a large portion of the shares up for sale through the Initial Public Offering (IPO) to British company Cable & Wireless, which currently owns the majority stake of Dhiraagu.

The government sold seven percent of its shareholding in Dhiraagu to Cable & Wireless in 2009 for US$40 million.

“While claiming to sell 15 percent to Maldivian citizens what they’re doing now is selling shares to Cable & Wireless again,” Mahlouf said. “We received inside information long ago that a large part of that 15 percent is going to be bought by Cable & Wireless.”

The MP for Galolhu South expressed concern with the shares being open for purchase by both foreigners and international companies.

He added that the Maldivian people would have to face “the bitter consequences” of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government “selling off state assets built up by the former government through a lot of hard work.”

Economic Development Minister Mahmoud Razi however dismissed the allegations as completely unfounded.

“Why would we register with the CMDA (capital market development authority) and go for an international public offering if we wanted to do that?” he asked. “We’ve already sold them the majority stake.”

If the government wished to sell shares to C&W, he added, there would be “no need of a charade.”

In a press release issued after a ceremony to launch the IPO this week, Dhiraagu stated that 11,400,000 ordinary shares having a nominal value of Rf2.50 each at the offer price of Rf80 per share would be made available to the public.

The subscription period will open on October 25 and close on November 30. Formed in 1988 as a joint venture between the government and Cable & Wireless, Dhiraagu has since invested US$155 million in developing its network and operations within the Maldives. The company employs more than 600 people, 99 per cent of whom are Maldivians.

President NasheedSpeaking at the IPO launching ceremony Tuesday night after releasing the Dhiraagu prospectus, President Mohamed Nasheed said the government’s aim was to divest its remaining 33 percent to the public at a later date.

The MDP government’s policy was to ensure that the government would no longer be involved in business, said Nasheed, reiterating the government’s commitment to free market principles and economic liberalisation.

“The government is very much certain that profits increase manifold when the government is not involved [in doing business],” he said. “This became most clear when the airport was privatised. Did you know that before [Indian infrastructure giant] GMR took over [management of] the airport, in the year that the government received the highest amount from the airport company to the state budget, it was Rf100 million (US$6.4 million). Usually it is Rf75 million (US$4.8 million). This year the government will receive Rf600 million (US$39 million).”


7 thoughts on “Government plans to sell Dhiraagu shares to foreigners, claims PPM”

  1. I say let this issue go.

    However the government will never take out all of its shares in Dhiraagu. There is too much at stake.

  2. What are Ahmed Mahlouf's qualifications again? Seems that the whole issue is way over his head.

    He's also fabricating the truth about how Dhiraagu is where it's today due to the hard work of the former government. That's total bull shit! Dhiraagu is where it's today, because of the enormous amount of foreign investment it has had over the years. It's current life started when the Japanese government DONATED an entire telecoms system including buildings and other facilities!

    C&W then built it up to where it is now. Of course, the dedicated and talented staff played a large part in this too. None of that has much to do with the previous regime at all.

  3. How else do we get to visit SPA's in Singapore, you may get the looted money from your Keeper Boy Maumoon, only way for us to raise money is buy selling.

  4. @Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb

    I would like to know where you got your qualifications from, and how you know what you know, most probably from MDP haruge, people like you just blurt out everything you think you know and critisize ppl who have put their blood sweat and tears into making dhiraagu what it is, just because you got yellow fever, no respect for people at all, you should be ashamed.

  5. @Maldives wholesale

    If you come around, I'll show you my qualifications! I'm dying to know about the "ppl who have put their blood sweat and tears into making dhiraagu what it is".

    I clearly said who I believe made Dhiraagu into what it is today. Let's see who you are praising.

    BTW, MDP haruge is a totally alien concept to me! I've got zero interest in politicians of any colour. Most of them are scum anyway. My only concern is for the welfare of the country.

  6. Dhiraagu is a successful Company and I do not mind the Government divesting it's shares to the public. However, locals should get priority when shares are allocated. Only the unsold shares (if any) should be offered to foreigners.


Comments are closed.