Privately owned pan-African telecom group Liquid Telecom has entered into an agreement to acquire South African network operator Neotel, owned by Tata Communications and Nexus Connexion, for South African Rand 6.55 billion (Rs 29 billion), a company statement said on Tuesday. “Liquid Telecom, a privately owned, pan-African telecom group, majority owned by Econet Wireless Global, announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire South African communications network operator Neotel,” the statement said here. “The shareholders of Neotel — Tata Communications of India and minority shareholders led by Nexus Connexion — have agreed for Liquid Telecom to acquire Neotel for ZAR 6.55 billion. Liquid Telecom is partnering with Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), a South African empowerment investment group, which has committed to take a 30 percent equity stake in Neotel,” .
The transaction will create the largest pan-African broadband network and business-to-business telecom providers. “Through a single access point, businesses across Africa will be able to access Liquid Africa’s 24,000km of cross-border, metro and access fibre networks. These currently span 12 countries from South Africa to Kenya, with further expansion planned,” the statement said. “We are excited about this transaction. Leveraging the strengths of RBH, Neotel and Liquid Telecom will offer an unprecedented fibre network with a unique set of services and international connectivity for telecom operators and enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom.
“For the first time, African companies will be able to connect with each other in a cost effective and reliable way, all on a single fibre network. We will also be increasing investments into Neotel to cater for rapidly accelerating mobile and enterprise traffic, enabling us to launch exciting new products and services,” said Rudnick. “Liquid Telecom is the right partner for the next phase of Neotel’s evolution. Convergence of technologies and services will be the key driver of growth across the globe and this transaction will encourage inclusion and support the growth aspirations of the African continent,” said Vinod Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, Tata Communications.
The transaction is subject to approval by South African regulatory authorities and is expected to be completed later during this financial year, the statement added. Tata Communications’ shares were trading at Rs.466.50 per share, up 3.76 percent, at the BSE at 1.10 p.m.