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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 07:31 GMT
Telkom float price cut
Telkom logo
Uncertain markets forced the price cut
South Africa has cut the price of shares in the privatisation of phone utility Telkom, the government's largest and most important sale yet.

The government blamed uncertainty in global financial markets for the move.

"The government has taken an informed decision... to reduce the price range, and create the right basis for a successful transaction," said a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, one of the banks handling the sale.

Telkom is due to list on the New York and Johannesburg stock exchanges on Tuesday.

The government has been preparing the Telkom sale for years, cutting jobs and costs, but the company is now valued at a only a quarter of what it was at the peak of the telecoms boom in 2000.

The privatisation has been resisted by trade unions and members of the ruling party, the African National Congress.

US telecoms group SBC and Telekom Malaysia jointly own 30% of Telkom.

Revenue blow

Privatisations are a key revenue earner for the South African government, and the lower price will reduce the government's take from the sale.

The sale accounts for the bulk of the 12bn rand (943m; $1.48bn) in privatisation revenues for the current financial year.

The price range was cut to 27-30 rand a share from 33.50-40.90 rand, valuing the company between 15bn-16.7bn rand.

The uncertainty caused by fears of a possible war on Iraq, and the impact on financial markets, was blamed for the lower price.

But the sale's managers insist demand for Telkom shares continues to be strong.

The government is due to privatise a 30% stake in the Eskom power business, the crown jewel of South Africa's state assets, by March 2004.


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