New Shareholder for Vodacom Mozambique

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Whatana Investments, a company chaired by Mozambique's former first lady, Graca Machel, has taken a five per cent stake in Vodacom Mozambique (VM), one of the two mobile phone operators in the country.

VM is the Mozambican subsidiary of the South African cell phone giant, Vodacom. When VM began operations in 2003, 98 per cent of its shares were held by Vodacom, and only two per cent by Mozambican investors.

The local holding has now increased to 15 per cent, but Vodacom's 85 per cent stake ensures that VM is still an overwhelmingly South African company.

The other two Mozambican shareholders, each with five per cent, are EMOTEK, headed by prominent business figure Hermenegildo Gamito, who is also a parliamentary deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party, and the Intelec group, which counts President Armando Guebuza as one of its shareholders

Announcing the Whatana acquisition in Maputo on Monday, Gamito, who is chairperson of the VM board, said that the five per cent stake is worth 70 million rands (ten million US dollars). He did not say how much Whatana has paid upfront.

"This growing involvement of Mozambican businesses will not end here", pledged Gamito. "We have plans to increase our shareholding so that Vodacam holds between 51 and 55 per cent, and we Mozambicans hold the rest".

In South Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of the Vodacom Group, Alan Knott-Craig, said the deal was part of its strategy to "create a truly Mozambican company".

"Vodacom Mozambique is pleased to welcome Whatana as a shareholder", he declared. "Together we will provide cutting-edge technology to Mozambicans and we look forward to the contribution that our new shareholder will make to Vodacom Mozambique."

Whatana is managed by Graca Machel's son, Malenga Machel, who said "Whatana is very proud to become a shareholder of Vodacom Mozambique, a company that adds value to the lives of millions of Mozambicans by ensuring ease of communication. This not only has economic benefits for all the people of Mozambique, but ensures that everyone in this country is only a phone call away from each other. Whatana is committed to help materialise Vodacom's objectives in Mozambique."

Whatana declares that its aim is to invest in mining, energy, logistics, telecommunications, tourism and finance. It is working with the international internet security company, WISeKey, with whom it signed an agreement in January to set up a WISeKey affiliate in South Africa in 2008.

VM is competing against the pioneer in mobile phone technology in Mozambique, the publicly owned Mozambican company M-Cel. In its 2007 annual report, Vodacom claimed that VM had 35 per cent of the Mozambican market. VM is still running at a loss, and both VM and M-Cel spend large sums on saturation advertising.

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique