TELECOMS

MTN TO PURCHASE CI’S AROBASE IN ANOTHER “BELOW-THE-RADAR” DEAL

Industry sources in Cote d’Ivoire say that MTN has made another acquisition, buying Ivorian SNO Arobase Telecom. Its licence gives it the right to operate all type of national and international telecommunication and communication rights. Only GSM is excluded from its licence. This is the second discreet deal that the South African mobile giant has made in the last few months.

Over the last few years Arobase Telecom has made a considerable investment in building a fibre optic network around the capital Abidjan. It has also recently installed a CDMA switch made by Huawei and through a few of its wireless POPs has been offering fixed wireless telephony services. Current subscribers are estimated to number around 5,000.

MTN will pay slightly above US$100 million to buy out about 60% of the company’s debt and to reduce current owner Gervais Amani’s shareholding to the status of minority shareholder. Amani will no longer manage the company under MTN’s ownership.

This is MTN’s second non-mobile acquisition and appears to be part of a strategy to build up infrastructure and fixed line assets. Late last year it purchased the Nigerian company VGC Communications for a sum of around US$60 million. At the time a tight-lipped MTN let slip that it was “looking at all the opportunities available under the UASL (unified access service licence) regime and cannot comment on any speculations at this time."

According to Technology Times, MTN also had within its radar another smaller Nigerian player, XS Broadband, a company jointly owned by Lagos-based technology company, Resourcery Limited and UBA Plc.

VGCCL wired the Victoria Garden City, an estate spanning over two million square meters by the Lagos Lagoon, consisting of residential, commercial and public service areas with telecommunications infrastructure, for voice, data and high-speed internet services. The City is built for 2,000 housing units of various types and caters for a population of about 30,000.

It has also wired up Dolphin and Parkview Estates both in Lagos for residents of these low density residential estates consisting of high class duplexes, terraces and block of flats, with state-of-the-art telecommunications exchange and infrastructure to provide high quality voice and internet services.

Also on the Marina Lagos, VGCCL installed five kilometres of 72-core optic fibre cable between Dolphin Estate and Marina, as well as over 90 kilometres copper distribution around Marina. The fibre optic on its optic fibre backbone from Victoria Island through Dolphin Estate terminates at the VGCCL remote site in Marina, to offer voice, data and internet services to businesses concentrated around that area.

According to VGCCL, the company has installed 16 kilometres of optic fibre cable between Victoria Island, Ikoyi and up to Dolphin Estate and today boasts of over 500 kilometre span of copper cable as subscriber distribution.

In Port Harcourt, River State, it has installed to date approximately 1,000 kilometres of primary and secondary cable network distribution comprising of fibre optic backbone network and copper cables. Also in Abuja, VGCCL has installed approximately 35 kilometres of primary network distribution comprising of fibre optic backbone network.

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