South African’s Broadband over Power Lines company gets investor

Internet

Investment group Safika Holdings had agreed to buy a majority stake in Goal Technology Solutions (GTS), a company that provides high-speed data services over power lines, GTS confirmed this week.

GTS has been on sale since last year following the death in September of major shareholder and chairman, Miko Rwayitare.

The company is part of Rwayitare's empire, Mikcor Investment Holdings (MIH). GTS, which lost a pay television licence last year, needs cash and a partner to accelerate its growth in the local market.

According to reports, the buyer will acquire 80 percent of the company. GTS confirmed that Safika would buy a controlling stake but would not elaborate. Safika was not available for comment.

Patrice Lasserre, GTS's chief operating officer, said several companies including Telkom were interested in the company. "We believe we have a very good business."

GTS's customers include 3,000 households that access broadband over electricity power lines. It uses a combination of cable and fibre to provide services in Tshwane, Heidelberg and Nelspruit.

The group had a substantial number of paying clients. Lasserre said the number was increasing every week. It had agreements with municipalities to provide the services.

"Now that we have good partners … we will definitely look at other models," he said. These could include offering contract packages and other bundled products to clients.

GTS has 52 employees, a presence in Rwanda and Uganda, and a pilot project in Angola. According to technology newswire ITweb, the draft shareholders' agreement stipulates that the buyer would have power to appoint the chief executive, the chief technical officer, the chief financial officer and the board chairman.

Some of MIH's subsidiaries are being reviewed and might be put on sale. These include a Franschhoek-based hotel. MIH said the hotel was not for sale. But it confirmed that several subsidiaries would be sold.

Safika has investments in financial services, property and natural resources. The company recently parted ways with its chief executive, Vuli Cuba, after he reduced his stake in Safika to buy a majority shareholding in subsidiary SafikaTel, a specialist technology firm.

Business Report