iBurst sale heads to Icasa

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Communications regulator Icasa has asked for written submissions over the proposed acquisition of iBurst and Broadlink parent Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) by MultiSource, a company that enjoys the backing of former banking executives Michael Jordaan and Paul Harris.

Icasa has confirmed in the most recent Government Gazette that it received an application for approval of the acquisition on 8 June. In terms of the application, MultiSource has undertaken that WBS will remain the holder of all licences issued to it by Icasa.

The Electronic Communications Act prevents the sale or transfer of an “individual licence” without prior written permission from regulator.

“The authority acknowledges that this application comes at a time in the sector where there are a number of transactions taking place,” Icasa said.

These include the proposed acquisition of Neotel by Vodacom; MTN and Telkom’s radio access network sharing agreement currently before the Competition Commission; and the acquisition of Business Connexion by Telkom, also before the commission.

Icasa has asked for written comments on the proposed MultiSource, WBS deal. Copies of submissions must also be sent to WBS, which has been given the right — as well as additional time — to respond to them.

TechCentral reported in February that WBS had undergone a successful due diligence by MultiSource. The deal still requires the approval of both Icasa and South Africa’s competition authorities.

WBS has access to valuable radio frequency spectrum that could be used to build a national wireless broadband network. In particular, it has access to spectrum in the 1,8GHz band that is ideally suited to building next-generation wireless broadband networks using 4G/LTE technology.

TechCentral broke the news in October 2014 that MultiSource, a company which was once listed on the JSE, had made an offer to buy the company.

At the time, chairman and shareholder Phumlani Moholi confirmed that MultiSource had made an offer to buy WBS, but cautioned that it was subject to a financial and technical due diligence. Moholi is a former chief technology officer at MTN and chief IT officer for the 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee. The value of the proposed acquisition has not been disclosed.

WBS shareholders include Blue Label Telecoms co-CEOs Brett and Mark Levy, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Investec, the Public Investment Corp and former WBS CEO Thami Mtshali, who stepped down last August.

InstituteX, an investment company founded by Harris, Moholi and technology entrepreneur Brandon Leigh, acquired a 66% stake in Multisource back in 2010. Leigh, who serves as MultiSource’s CEO, is the former head of Leaf Wireless, the company that distributed HTC products in South Africa until 2012.
Source: Techcentral 22 July 2015