Africa’s largest telecommunication by subscribers, MTB has ancelled its plan to sell its 53percent stake in Mascom Wireless Botswana citing that certain conditions related to the transaction had not been met.
“In the longer term, if somebody came with a very attractive offer for the business, we’ll apply our minds then,” said the Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita.
According to reports, MTN had agreed to sell its stake to Econet for $300million but this was met with concern by members of Mascom’s board who believe that another stakeholder, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), must be able to influence the decision.
It would be recalled that Strive Masiyiwa, the owner of Econet Wireless founded Mascom in 1998 but sold off the majority of his holding in it. Mascom’s board is now dominated by representatives of the BPOPF, with the operator among the fund’s most profitable enterprises.
Local news outlet, Mmegi, reported that the Mascom board’s BPOPF representatives had dismissed MTN’s offer, claiming that the fund should receive the first right to buy any available holdings in the operator. The fund’s representatives queried the valuation of the stake, arguing that due diligence would be required before any transfer of shares began.
There are also claims that Econet founder, Masiyiwa apparently wants to come back to significant equity through purchasing MTN’s shares.
Mupita also revealed that MTN is also in advanced discussions around the disposal of a 49 percent holdings in ATC Ghana and ATC Uganda, which it values at 7 billion rand and 8 billion rand, respectively.
This shedding is part of MTN’s review of a raft of investments under a three-year plan. It also plans to exit countries where it has no prospect of reaching the top-two spots in terms of market share.
It is also aimed at focusing on high-growth markets in Africa and the Middle East after clashes with regulators in Nigeria, Uganda and elsewhere crimped growth.
Mascom is the largest operator in Botswana with over 1.6million subscribers. It is in competition with Orange’s local operation and former state-owned operator BTCL.