Speculation has again surfaced that a deal between Dimension Data and MWeb is on the cards, eight months after TechCentral first reported on apparent preliminary discussions between the two companies.
The speculation then went cold. This time around, though, the focus appears to be on certain MWeb divisions. MWeb is owned by MultiChoice, which falls under media conglomerate Naspers.
MyBroadband, a forum for retail consumers, on Wednesday quoted unnamed sources as saying that the talks may be centred on some sort of outsourcing deal that could result in MWeb Business, MWeb Wi-Fi and Optinet being folded into Didata, which owns Internet Solutions.
Optinet provides connectivity services in the Naspers stable and it’s understood that this business would be key to any outsourcing transaction with Didata.
According to an MWeb spokesman, Optinet runs all the key technical and network operations for both the MWeb Internet service provider (ISP) and MWeb Wi-Fi businesses. It also acts as an internal IT service provider to other Naspers companies in South Africa and Africa, leveraging mainly network investment and group data centres.
Optinet has a staff complement of about 150 employees, providing services to 61 companies and divisions in the Naspers stable.
The talks — assuming they’re on again — come six years after Naspers, pulled the plug on an auction to sell the ISP.
When speculation first arose last year that a deal could be on the cards, a well-placed source told TechCentral that Didata and Naspers had engaged in talks about merging MWeb and Internet Solutions. Details were sketchy, but talk then was that Didata would hold 80% of the equity in the merged entity, with Naspers holding the remaining 20%.
TechCentral asked Didata for comment on Wednesday, but global PR manager Hilary King said the company had a policy of not commenting on rumours or speculation.
“Dimension Data has a strict policy in that it does not respond to market rumour, speculation or hypothetical questions about the company or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.”
MWeb ISP CEO Derek Hershaw also declined to comment.
MWeb, founded in 1997, is one of the country’s largest consumer-focused Internet service providers. It has 320 000 retail consumers as customers and its MWeb Business arm, which is focused largely on the small and medium enterprise market, has over 11 000 clients.
It consists of three divisions — MWeb ISP headed by Hershaw, Wi-Fi headed by Nathier Kasu and Optinet headed by Andre Retief. The MWeb group is led by Francois Theron, who took the reins following the resignation in 2012 of Rudi Jansen.
In 2008, Naspers tried to sell MWeb through an auction process, but was ultimately unsuccessful, even though the media group said it had received numerous offers for the business. It’s understood it had subsequent discussions with MTN, which didn’t lead to a deal. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media