A couple of weeks ago news came out that Orascom was holding off further investment in the DPRK until it was able to repatriate some of its profits. A few days later Orascom issued a press release denying this and asserting that they are looking for new investment opportunities in the DPRK.
This correction raises questions about just how significant Orascom’s profits in the DPRK are. Information on the growth of KoryoLink has been scarce since it was spun off into a subsidiary company (it no longer appears in Orascom shareholder reports). Martyn Williams did us all a favor, however, and found the Jan-Sept 2013 audit for Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT), the company now holding the KoryoLink portfolio.
I have uploaded the audit to this site, and you can download it here (PDF). It contains the consolidated financial reports for OTMT, including KoryoLink.
The audit is posted as an image PDF (so the text is not searchable or easily copied into blog posts), but I offer some key data below. The caveat to keep in mind is that all of the USD$ calculations appear to be determined by converting DPRK Won (KPW) at the official rate (appx 130KPW/1US$ as best I can tell today). This may be the appropriate accounting standard to employ, but needless to say, this radically overstates the market value of the firm’s position since the current black market rate of the won is approximately 8,000KPW/1US$:
US$422 million is 54,860,000,000 in North Korean Won (converted at the official rate). Converted back to US$ at the black market, the total is just US$6,857,500.
OTMT EBITDA (Earnings before income tax, depreciation, amortization) for the period Jan-Sept 2013 are listed as USD$178,962,000. This is just US$2.9 million at the black market rate.
Capital expenditure from Jan – Sept 2013 is listed as USD$40,931, 000 (Appx $665,128 at black market rate).
KoryoLink’s tax exempt status ended on Dec 15, 2013.
The audit specifically addresses the difficulties of operating in North Korea’s official financial sector:
Some additional documents from June of this year can be found here and here. I am not an accountant and already have enough on my plate, so if there are any researchers out there that want to take a crack at this stuff, please do.