On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- Overseas Telecom AB, where TeliaSonera owns 65 percent of the capital, has sold its 32 percent holding in the telecommunications operator MTN Uganda to MTN International (Mauritius) Ltd, wholly owned subsidiary of MTN Group Ltd, South Africa. The value of the transaction is SEK 1.2 billion.

- MTN has raised R6,3bn in a bond issue to help fund its acquisition of Investcom, but the cellular operator is under fire for "unethically" manipulating the bond market by not accepting all the bids. It refused to place bonds with investors demanding a higher yield rate. That capped the cost of its capital, but upset investors, and might put them off supporting MTN in future.

- Telkom South Africa is hunting for a black empowerment partner for Swiftnet, a wholly owned subsidiary that carries data communications over wireless networks.

Swiftnet holds a licence to carry corporate data using wireless technologies, but the licence conditions imposed by the Independent Communications Authority of SA call for operators to be at least 30% black-owned. Potential investors will compete in a bidding process and have until July 21 to register interest.

- South Africa's second national operator (SNO), which has yet to carry its first call, has spent R256-million buying its first major asset from Transnet subsidiary (and SNO shareholder) Transtel. Transtel is the telecommunications arm of state-owned transport group Transnet. These assets include an optical fibre cable as well as telecommunications equipment and facilities, but do not form part of the operational private network operated by Transtel, which was deployed specifically in preparation for the SNO opportunity.

- Zimbabwe's biggest mobile operator Econet Wireless aims to increase its subscriber base by more than two-thirds after securing a USD20 million loan to expand its network, the company said in a statement last week. The funding was secured from Egypt-based African Export-Import Bank and will be used to import GSM equipment including GPRS technology. Capacity will be expanded from its current 500,000 to 800,000 with new GSM connections to be available by October. Econet had 470,000 customers at the end of March.