Rich new MTN jigsaw pieces fall into place
CELLULAR network operator MTN is in the final stages of finding buyers for the R1.75-billion sale of the 15.5% SBC Communications stake in MTN. The final buyers of the 3.5% black economic empowerment offering are expected to be revealed this week.
This will be followed by an announcement on the R3-billion sale of the 25% of MTN held by Cable & Wireless to a foreign partner, say telecommunications analysts.
Bob Chaphe, CEO of MTN, confirms that the company has approached black economic empowerment groups and that it will disclose the successful bidders as soon as legal matters are tied up.
An estimated 10 black empowerment groups made it through an initial screening process to the shortlist.
Women's investment groups and unions are said to be among the strongest bidders for the stake. The other 1.5% of the total 5% black empowerment allocation, worth about R568-million, was earmarked for the National Empowerment Fund.
Existing MTN shareholders M-Cell, Transnet and Naftel bought the other 10.5% for about R1.2-billion.
Telia of Sweden, which is up against Portugal Telecom and Telecom Italia, is pegged to clinch the foreign deal.
MTN's shareholding finalisation is due to come in the same week that the telecommunications industry will find out if additional cellular network operators will be introduced into the MTN-Vodacom dominated market.
The SA Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Satra) says it is on track for Friday's announcement on the feasibility of more licences.
Consortia likely to bid include Vula Communications-led consortia, which may be joined by Thebe Media and Communications; the Telecommunications Empowerment Consortium; Afrozone Investments and a group driven by the Communication Workers' Union.
Market indications show the winning bidders should be prepared to fork out between R6-billion and R10-billion to establish the new network.