ALTECH'S AUTOPAGE CELLULAR LOOKING FOR AFRICAN GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Autopage Cellular, the independent cellular service provider, will aggressively pursue growth opportunities in certain parts of Africa, Allied Technologies (Altech) said in its latest annual report. Autopage Cellular is a telecommunications division of Altech.

The company said it was seeking and evaluating opportunities in both the cellular and the wider communications market in the rest of Africa and locally as deregulation in the telecoms industry gained momentum.

In the year to February, Autopage raised net subscribers to 560,000 and lifted revenue 76 percent to R3.14 billion. The telecoms division could benefit from the joint venture of its parent company, Altech, with Econet Wireless Group.

In January Altech and Econet Wireless Group unveiled a new global telecoms company known as Newco with operations from Africa to New Zealand. Autopage could be in talks to enter Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria as Newco will have telecoms assets in those countries.

Craig Venter, Altech's chief executive, said Autopage had delivered excellent performance after continued focus on improving service levels, stringent cost control measures and efficiencies.

Autopage's partnership with Absa to use ATMs as a distribution channel for Vodacom, MTN and Cell C had resulted in the prepaid voucher market being stable.

Altech said opportunities were becoming evident for its vehicle tracking business, Netstar. The local market for stolen vehicle recovery grew 30 percent to 156 00 vehicles. Netstar had a 46 percent market share, followed by Tracker with 42 percent and Matrix with 6 percent.

The company said the stolen recovery market was set to grow by up to 25 percent Altech rose 25c to R30.50 in Johannesburg yesterday. The electronic and electrical equipment sector lost 0.49 percent.  (Source : Business Report )