Blue Label, Microsoft divorce goes ahead

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Blue Label Telecoms shareholders on Tuesday approved a plan by the JSE-listed company to buy the 12% of the company’s shares held by US software maker Microsoft in a deal worth R390m.

Microsoft is selling the shares at a loss. It bought 91.9m shares in 2007 for R6,75/share and is selling them back to Blue Label, which intends to cancel them, for R4,25/share. Blue Label’s head of investor and media relations, Michael Campbell, says the two companies have “no further plans to work together”.

“Our strategies dovetailed well in 2007, reflected in [Microsoft's] investments in us and bilateral agreements, but circumstances have since changed,” Campbell says. “During the last four years as a listed business, our relationship has not continued to develop in the way that either party envisioned and there are no common denominators apparent to either of us going forward.”

Campbell says the parties have agreed not to disclose what percentage of shareholders voted in favour of the buy-back, but it had to be improved by a 75% majority.

Microsoft originally bought the shares when Blue Label listed on the JSE. It acquired the stake and entered into a partnership with the SA company to “exercise reasonable efforts to provide mutual assistance to one another in exploring new business opportunities”.