Liquid Telecom’s acquisition of Neotel gets regulatory greenlight

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
African telecoms, Econet Group

One of the highlights of the African telecoms space in 2016 wasAfrican telecoms carrier and Econet Wireless Group subsidiary Liquid Telecom’s announcement that it was moving to acquire Neotel, the South African fixed telecoms operator.

This deal followed the disposal of the Neotel stake by Indian conglomerate Tata Communications. In snapping up Neotel Liquid Telecom beat out undersea cable concern Seacom and partnered with South African investment group Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), which will own a 30% stake in Neotel.

Almost six months later Liquid Telecom has announced that the deal has received unconditional approval for the 6.55 billion Rand deal from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) one of the regulatory bodies with a say in the acquisition.

This is the second pass that the acquisition has received following another go-ahead from South Africa’s Competition Commission back in October this year. Financial modalities of the acquisition are set to be concluded in the first quarter of 2017.

For Liquid Telecom, ownership of Neotel establishes a firm presence for the Pan-African carrier in the South African market where Neotel has extensive investments in infrastructure which include nationwide backbone fibre and two data centres.

The approval also caps off a busy M&A season for Liquid Telecom with other deals like its recent acquisition of Tanzanian ISP Raha earlier this month as well as a partnership with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to create a new telecoms provider in the Southern African country.

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