By ZARA KANU
GENERAL Enterprise Management Services (GEMS), the major shareholder of mobile phone company Green Communication Limited (Greencom), has left the company insolvent with debts up to K12 million.
Former employees of Greencom claimed that they had not been paid, and were demanding entitlements dating back over 12 months.
When The National contacted the GEMS office in Hong Kong yesterday, company director Fergus Wilma said he had no comment as far as they were concerned and that GEMS was not interested in Greencom.
While holding onto Greencom, GEMS became involved in a consortium that is investing in B Mobile, the mobile phone company owned by Telikom PNG. It appeared to be favouring this venture. Competition watchdog ICCC had advised GEMS to divest in Greencom before it could approve the joint venture arrangement with B Mobile. It is unclear if this had happened. Former Greencom employees, frustrated with GEMS attitude towards them, asked if the company could be trusted as a business partner.
A spokesman, requesting anonymity, said the 12 Greencom national employees had gone through so much pain and grief because their employment contracts and arrangements, established with Greencom dating back to 2005, had not been honoured. The spokesman said: “We have been humiliated by the non-payment of our entitlements for almost 12 months and to survive in Port Moresby on borrowed money is totally unacceptable.”
Greencom resident director Ted Diro said last week when approached that from his experience, GEMS was not honourable and trustworthy and he would not conduct business with GEMS in future.
“We were taking steps to restore the licence and re-arrange shareholding,” Mr Diro said.
“GEMS, since March to November last year, had engaged in a conflict of interest deal in Telikom PNG while posing as partners in Greencom.
“I was informed of this last March by interested parties who attended the meeting on GEMS’ involvement in B Mobile and, from this, tried to encourage the Government to get GEMS to surrender shares for Greencom to proceed to find a new partner,” Mr Diro said. “Because they had the majority shares of 55%, Greencom was left with no room to move.” In November 2007, GEMS acquired 55% shareholding in Greencom and the remaining 45% through equity funding to facilitate payment for licence fees on behalf of Greencom, therefore, technically owning 100% in Greencom.