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Liquid Telecom gets thumbs up on R6.55bn Neotel acquisition

By , Portals editor
South Africa , 15 Dec 2016

Liquid Telecom gets thumbs up on R6.55bn Neotel acquisition

Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, majority-owned by Econet Global, has received unconditional approval from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the R6.55 billion acquisition of South African communications network operator Neotel.

In a statement the telco said the latest development follows approval from South Africa's Competition Commission during October 2016.

Liquid Telecom's partner, South African investment group Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), will own a 30% stake in Neotel.

In its announcement Liquid Telecom stated the combined network assets and service platforms will give it unrivalled reach across Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, enabling it to offer access via a single connection to over 40,000km of cross border, national and metro fibre networks across 12 countries.

In November Nic Rudnick, CEO of Liquid Telecom said the deal will bolster Liquid Telecom's existing footprint in Africa – underpinned by what the company describes as the largest single longhaul fibre network on the continent.

"The key thing about the Neotel transaction is to have one network and many countries, then becomes easier to connect multiple branches, enterprises in multiple countries than it is to connect in one country," said Rudnick.

Commenting on the approval, Rudnick said: "We are delighted to have received regulatory approval to complete this transaction. The combined companies will create an unparalleled footprint covering key markets across the continent, giving Liquid Telecom a significant competitive advantage through the breadth, depth and flexibility of our consolidated networks. We will be able to offer African companies the highest quality and most extensive connectivity on the continent. We appreciate the efficiency with which this transaction was dealt with by both ICASA and the Competition Commission."

Albertinah Kekana, CEO of RBH, said: "Our decision to partner with Liquid Telecom and Neotel is in line with our diversification strategy which seeks to invest in high growth sectors. Together, we are well positioned to expand through telecommunications infrastructure and services sector in other key markets beyond South Africa."

On behalf of Neotel, Non-Executive Director in Charge, Kennedy Memani, said: "We welcome ICASA's approval of this transaction. Leveraging the strengths of Liquid Telecom, Neotel's staff and customers will benefit from the stability, planned expansion and increased investments into the business. This will enable Neotel to reach its full potential in South Africa and across the African continent."

Liquid Telecom will invest in Neotel's products and services in order to support the rising demand for network services in South Africa and other African countries. Neotel will also benefit from Liquid Telecom's pan-African experience and technology leadership, helping to enhance systems and processes across its operations as well as drive profitability.

"The transaction will transform Liquid Telecom's presence in South Africa, where Liquid Telecom's growing base of corporate and enterprise customers will benefit from Neotel's extended services portfolio and advanced network reach," the companies add.

"The deal for Neotel continues a period of accelerated growth for Liquid Telecom, which has combined strategic acquisitions, such as the recent joint venture in Botswana and the acquisition of Tanzania's leading ISP Raha, with ongoing investment in the rollout of fibre," the statement continues.

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