The Japanese tobacco giant, Japan Tobacco International, yesterday paid the Ethiopian government 510 million dollars to acquire 40 percent stake on the National Tobacco Enterprise.
The Ministry of Public Enterprises and Japan Tobacco International yesterday signed the deal at the ministry’s assembly hall. Demitu Hambissa, Minister of Public Enterprises, and representatives of Japan Tobacco International Francois Fidanza and Martin Ralph Fraundorfer (PhD) signed the agreement.
Japan Tobacco International won the open international bid put up by the Ministry for the partial acquisition of the National Tobacco Enterprise SC. The Ethiopian government owns a majority 78 percent of the National Tobacco Enterprise SC while the Yemeni company, Sheba Ethiopia Investments, holds minority 22 percent shares.
In the tender opened on May 19, 2016 Japan Tobacco International offered the highest price of 510 million dollars for the acquisition of 40 percent of the share company which has been enjoying state monopoly. The National Tobacco Enterprise is the only tobacco company operating in Ethiopia since its inception in 1942.
Five companies participated in the international tender for the partial acquisition of National Tobacco Enterprise. International tobacco giants like American British Tobacco, manufacturer of Rothmans cigarettes and Philip Morris International, manufacturer of Marlboro, were among the bidders.
During the signing ceremony Demitu Hambissa said that the government transfers state enterprises to private companies not only to collect money but to improve the performance of the enterprises and boost their contribution to the economic development of the country. She said taking this into consideration the company should work towards making the National Tobacco Enterprise globally competitive.
Representative of Japan Tobacco International, Chris Woods, on his part said that his company would make National Tobacco among the list of leading global tobacco companies.
Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Abdulaziz Mohammed, and Japanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Kazuhiro Suzuki, attended the signing ceremony.
Japan Tobacco International wired the full payment of 510 million dollars to the Ethiopian government coffer few hours before the signing ceremony. The transaction is the largest payment the government collected from privatization of state enterprises. Japan Tobacco International said to have a big investment plan to make hefty investment on National Tobacco and elevate the enterprise into an internationally competitive tobacco giant.
The transaction is considered as a big achievement for the Ministry of Public Enterprises.
Sources told The Reporter that a prominent Ethiopian businessman, Tewodros Ashenafi, is the local partner of Japan Tobacco International and played a key role in helping bring the company to Ethiopia.