Nigerian telco in Vodacom merger?

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 29 Aug 2008

SA's biggest mobile operator, Vodacom, could become a takeover target for a Nigerian business tycoon, who has proposed a merger between Telkom's 50% stake in the mobile operator and Nigeria's Globacom.

This would create an $18 billion company, Business Day reported this morning.

The daily quoted local brokerage Mowana Investment saying it was handling the bid. The report states Globacom owner Mike Adenuga wants to create a R140 billion pan-African telecoms firm called "Vodaglo".

According to the report, the bid could disrupt plans by UK operator Vodafone, which holds a 50% stake in Vodacom, to gain control of the South African mobile operator by buying part of Telkom's stake.

One of the key players in Mowana Investment is the former chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications Nkenke Kekana, who was punted as one of the hopefuls in the R7.5 billion Vodacom BEE deal.

Others include Business Connexion CEO Benjamin Mophatlane; his brother, Isaac; former ICASA chairman Mandla Langa; and former communications department deputy director-general Joe Mjwara.

According to its Web site, Globacom, as Nigeria's second national operator, has infrastructure in Africa, Europe, America, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, and Australia.

The operator is laying a fibre optic submarine cable from Lagos to the UK for direct connectivity with Europe and the rest of the world, to address current traffic trends and cater for long-term bandwidth requirements.

In 2006, the company's CEO, Mike Adenuga Jr, had to flee Nigeria, together with two of his children who occupied positions in Globacom, as the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission planned to re-arrest him as part of a national anti-graft investigation.

This morning, Telkom declined to comment on whether it has received an offer from Globacom or Mowana, referring to a cautionary it issued earlier this week, under which it is still in talks with Mvelaphanda and Vodafone.

Mowana Investment was not available to comment this morning.

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