MTN Group expresses interest in buying Vodacom’s DRC subsidiary


MTN Group, Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, is seeking to buy Vodafone Group Plc (VOD)’s wireless venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a Bloomberg report

MTN is part of a bidding process for Vodacom Congo SPRL, the company 51 percent owned by Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD), which in turn is controlled by Vodafone, the Bloomberg sources said, declining to be identified because the matter is confidential. Johannesburg- based MTN made a presentation to Vodacom last week, one of the sources said.

Vodacom has been in a dispute with the venture’s local partner Congolese Wireless Network SPRL over funding and operational structure since at least early 2010, following a $484 million capital injection into the business by Vodacom. Vodacom may sell its stake to end the dispute, Chief Executive Officer Pieter Uys said on May. 16. Vodacom Congo had 4.2 million subscribers at the end of March.

Vodacom, also based in Johannesburg, is busy with a process being run by London’s NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. to “explore options” for its Congo unit, spokesman Richard Boorman said in an e-mailed response to questions today. MTN “continues to search for value-enhancing opportunities everywhere,” spokesman Rich Mkhondo said in a text message.

“Vodacom is apparently convinced it must get out of the DRC, therefore the only thing that would need to be sorted out is the price,” Gilmour said by telephone.