MTN has 'options' if Vodacom buys Neotel - TechCentral

MTN has ‘options’ if Vodacom buys Neotel

Sifiso Dabengwa

Sifiso Dabengwa

MTN has a “number of options on the table” if the sale of spectrum is included in Vodacom’s looming deal to buy Neotel.

“If the transferability of spectrum is something that becomes kosher in a market context, we’d be in a position to capitalise on that change,” MTN South Africa CEO Zunaid Bulbulia said on Wednesday when asked by TechCentral how the company would have to respond competitively.

He hinted that MTN had lined up a number of potential deals that could occur if the Neotel transaction went ahead. It’s been speculated previously that MTN held talks with iBurst and Broadlink parent company Wireless Business Solutions.

Vodacom is involved in exclusive talks with a view to buying 100% of Neotel’s equity, with a deal announcement expected in the next few weeks.

Neotel CEO Sunil Joshi told TechCentral recently that Vodacom was keen to buy the company for, among other things, access to its fibre transmission infrastructure and its radio frequency spectrum, both of which are well suited to building wireless broadband networks. Neotel is controlled by India’s Tata Communications.

Both MTN and Vodacom are keen to get access to new spectrum to expand their next-generation 4G/LTE networks, but the process of licensing suitable frequencies has been delayed by years. The department of communications is currently finalising its policy on access to so-called “high-demand spectrum”.

Bulbulia said MTN had options available if the Neotel sale went head, but said he couldn’t elaborate on these as discussions were the subject of various confidentiality agreements.

Asked if MTN would object to a deal between Vodacom and Neotel at the Competition Commission, MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said that the operator would not automatically do so. “The issue here is you can’t take a position because of where you are [in the market],” he said. “It has to be principled, no matter which side you’re on.”  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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