The company that runs Africa’s largest public Wi-Fi network is being liquidated after the unprofitable business failed to secure new investors.
The demise of Vast Networks is a blow to its majority owner, South African entertainment company MultiChoice Group, which was spun off from Africa’s biggest company, Naspers, earlier this year. Vast’s other shareholder is Dimension Data.
Vast Networks will go into liquidation next week after 18 months of sale talks ended in failure and other alternatives were exhausted, a spokesman said by e-mail. Fibre-optic infrastructure company Link Africa had previously discussed buying it for R450-million, Bloomberg reported in January.
“No agreement could be concluded, and the board is satisfied that all alternative options have now been exhausted,” the spokesman said. “Despite all our efforts, a sustainable and profitable business model could not be established, and the company continued to incur monthly trading losses almost from its inception.”
MultiChoice declined further comment.
Public Wi-Fi operators seek to turn a profit by charging customers for access, selling their usage data to third parties or selling advertising that’s seen by users. The services often compete directly with the mobile data networks and Wi-Fi services of big telecommunication groups. — (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP