Econet’s Liquid Telecom acquisition of SA communications giant Neotel finally approved

Econet Wireless Group (Econet) subsidiary, Liquid Telecom (Liquid), has acquired South African communications network operator, Neotel, in a $431,5 million deal that received its final regulatory approval this week.

Liquid chief executive, Nic Rudnick, yesterday said the move — which comes after Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)’s nod will see Liquid’s partner, South African investment group, Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH) holding a 30 percent stake in the newly-acquired company — allowed the company to expand its footprint on the continent.

“The combined companies will create an unparalled footprint covering key markets across the continent, giving Liquid a significant competitive advantage…,” Rudnick said.

In October 2016, South Africa’s Competition Commission also cleared the transaction, in a development anticipated to give Liquid unrivalled reach across Eastern, Central and southern Africa.

The Zimbabwean unit led by Wellington Makamure is also expected to benefit from the acquisition which allows the data company access via a single connection to over 40 000km of cross border, national and metro fibre networks across 12 countries.

In snapping up Neotel, Liquid Telecom beat out undersea cable group Seacom after disposal of the Neotel stake by Indian conglomerate Tata Communications.

RBH chief executive, Albertinah Kekana, said the decision to partner with Liquid and Neotel was in-line with the bank’s diversification strategy which seeks to invest in high growth sectors.

“…Together, we are well positioned to expand through telecommunications infrastructure and services sector in other key markets beyond South Africa,” Kekana said.

Liquid will invest in Neotel’s products and services in order to support the rising demand for network services in South Africa and other African countries.

Neotel will also benefit from Liquid Telecom’s pan-African experience and technology leadership, helping to enhance systems and processes across its operations as well as drive profitability.

The transaction will transform Liquid’s presence in South Africa, where Liquid’s growing base of corporate and enterprise customers will benefit from Neotel’s extended services portfolio and advanced network reach.

The deal for Neotel continues a period of accelerated growth for Liquid Telecom, which has combined strategic acquisitions, such as the recent joint venture in Botswana and the acquisition of Tanzania’s leading ISP Raha, with ongoing investment in the rollout of fibre.

The transaction provides a scalable platform for further long-term growth, enabling Liquid Telecom to deliver on its vision of a more connected Africa. Daily News

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