Blue Label Telecoms, through its subsidiary The Prepaid Company (TPC), is moving to acquire control of mobile operator Cell C.
As part of that process, TPC has filed an application with communications regulator Icasa for approval to transfer Cell C’s spectrum licences to TPC. It has also filed an application with the Competition Commission, which probes acquisitions in South Africa for their potential impact on competition.
Regulatory approval for the transfer of Cell C’s spectrum licences is one of the hurdles Blue Label must overcome to conclude the transaction.
Currently Blue Label has a non-controlling 49.5% stake in Cell C, and is now moving, through TPC, to obtain a further 4.04% stake in the business.
TechCentral first reported in August that Blue Label had agreed to acquire control of the telecommunications operator.
The JSE-listed fintech and telecoms group said at the time that it was preparing filings at the Competition Commission and Icasa.
“It is a process to apply to the Competition Commission, and we have been working on that,” Blue Label co-CEO Brett Levy said then. “We will apply to the Competition Commission this year, but the process can take six months or even two years. We’ll keep the market updated on the process, but it is definitely our intention [to take control].”
If Blue Label gets the green light from the two regulators, its stake in Cell C will rise to 53.5%.
“Cell C will still retain full control of its spectrum in this operating model and will continue to operate as a licensee providing mobile services to its customer base as a mobile network operator,” Cell C said in a statement on Friday.
In September, Levy said Blue Label was also keen to bring in a new strategic investor into Cell C.
“Cell C will have a ‘big brother’. Whoever that may be, that is coming – another investor, for sure,” he said in an interview on the TechCentral Show. “It will be a value-adding investor. It will not be a money person; it will be someone who adds value in strategy. It could be a bank or a retailer or another network, but it will be a strategic partner. And I don’t see that in five years, I see that in the next two to three years.” — © 2023 NewsCentral Media