Vodacom South Africa gets takeover nod for Global Telematics and Glocell deals

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Vodacom has won approval to acquire two small companies that distribute its airtime, despite initially being given a mauling by the Competition Tribunal for allegedly lying in its evidence.

The tribunal has agreed to let Vodacom's Service Provider Company absorb Global Telematics and Glocell, and made no comment on previously lambasting Vodacom. The tribunal last week said Vodacom could acquire the operations that resell cellular services and products for its network, and said the reasons for the decision would be released soon .

Vodacom's chief communications officer, Dot Field, said it "wishes to state that at no stage did it lie to the competition authorities ". The takeover drew flak from tribunal chairman David Lewis earlier this month, when he accused the operator of lying during the hearings.

Vodacom said its R206m purchase of Global Telematics and Glocell would strengthen ties with its customers. But the tribunal suspected that Vodacom wanted to buy the businesses to eliminate competition and improve its profit margins .

Lewis had also questioned the legitimacy of several previous deals where Vodacom ate up a succession of independent service providers, saying they might also have been approved "on the basis of equally false information and equally false rationale". Vodacom had absorbed four to six service providers in the past few years, representing 20% to 30% of all contract and prepaid airtime sales, he said.

Business Day