Liquid Telecom, the pan-African telecoms infrastructure carrier which is part of the Econet Wireless Group, is eyeing a listing on a European Stock Exchange in 2016.
According to a statement from Econet Group, this alternative is being explored as an option to the repeated multi-billion dollar offers that the Telecoms company has received and repeatedly turned down.
The statement released by the Econet group cites Strive Masiyiwa, the company’s founder and chairman as having said,
We have received several unsolicited offers for Liquid, but we want it to remain an independent access provider for Internet in Africa. We are going to raise more capital in the market and strengthen its market leadership in this vital space.
Liquid Telecom is one of the largest telecoms operators on the continent, with a fibre optic network presence in 15 countries across East, Central and Southern Africa.
According to Masiyiwa, Liquid is keen on expanding its terrestrial fibre presence in regions like West Africa where the company has only managed to establish a presence through satellite and payment systems.
This presence has been fortified by moves such as partnerships with other major operators like MTN and agreements with operators like Airtel, which form a part of Liquid’s long list of wholesale clients. Liquid has maintained a strong demand for its services which, according to Masiyiwa, will result in the need for 20,000km of fibre over the next 3 years.
One aspect pointed out by Masiyiwa is Liquid’s unique ability and capacity to offer reliable cross continent support to services which rely on connectivity, like Netflix, something which he concedes requires further investment.
The mention of a VOD service, specifically the Netflix example, seems to suggest an interest in value-added services which effectively expand the potential of Liquid Telcom’s infrastructure investments.
With the right amount of capital and an extended presence across the entire continent, Liquid could be angling for a lead position in Africa’s content and services food chain. This is the same play that other global telecoms players like HKT, through PCCW Global, have gone for especially with the recent launch of a VOD service, ONTAPtv.
This separate listing of Liquid Telecom will make this the second company under the Econet Wireless Group to be publicly traded after Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. The other subsidiaries under the Econet Wireless Group, namely Econet Wireless (which operates the group’s mobile networks in 10 countries, including Zimbabwe) and Cassava Connect are privately held.