On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- The buzz rumour swirling round the GSM Conference in Cape Town last week? MTN is to be bought by Orange. Neither party would confirm when asked. The rumour has probably got going because MTN is the only large-scale African mobile operator that is currently “unattached”. Vodafone has announced its desire to purchase Vodacom and Celtel has only recently changed hands. And with the exception of MTN’s lucky break in Iran, it has had some difficulty breaking out of the continent. Is the sale rumour true? Maybe it will be a case of if not now, when? And who?

- Portugal Telecom and South Africa-based operator MTN have entered a joint bid for a 34% stake in state-owned Namibian cellco Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), the country’s sole mobile operator. According to local press reports there are five parties bidding for the stake, and the sale is expected to be completed in the first half of 2006. The government also plans to sell a further 15% of the company to domestic investors. MTC claimed 410,000 subscribers at the end of September.

- Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) says it is in talks tobuy an unspecified Madagascan mobile operator. Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas claims that the target cellco has around 250,000 subscribers, which would make market leader Madacom the most likely subject, but nodetails concerning the bid or the size of the stake were available. Madacom is 66%-owned by Hong Kong-based Distacom.