Ghana Majority Partner for Airline to Be Chosen in 2014

Ghana will choose a partner to take a majority stake in a new national airline by the end of next year and will retain the rights to routes assigned to the operator of the carrier, the Ministry of Transport said.

The ministry has short-listed six transaction advisers and forwarded their proposals to the Ministry of Finance and World Bank for approval, Ellis Hugh-Tamakloe, head of monitoring and evaluation for the government agency, said in an interview in Accra, the capital, yesterday. Ghana would own no more than 10 percent of the company, he said. He declined to name the advisers.

“The government wants a public-private partnership with the private investor playing a leading role,” he said. “The government doesn’t want the failures of the past national airlines to be repeated.”

The discovery of oil offshore and an economic growth rate of about 7 percent are fueling demand for flights to Ghana, West Africa’s second-largest economy after Nigeria. Delta Air Lines Inc., Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways Ltd. and Deutsche Lufthansa AG operate international flights from Accra. Ghana Airports Co. plans to spend about $400 million to expand the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.

The number of carriers operating in Ghana rose to 42 last year from 15 in 2000, according to the airport operator’s website. About 2.2 million people flew through Ghana’s airports last year, up from 600,000 in 2000.

“Engaging a private investor is expected to bring on board competent management as well,” Mary-Magdalene Boateng, senior research analyst at First Atlantic Asset Management Co. in Accra, said by phone. “We think government could increase its stake to 20 percent but not more than that.”

The airline would be Ghana’s third attempt at running a profitable carrier. Ghana International Airlines, which was 70 percent-owned by the government, ceased operations in 2010. It replaced Ghana Airways Ltd., which was set up in 1958, a year after independence from Britain. It was liquidated in 2005 after it was unable to find international investors amid rising debt.

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