VODACOM RENAMES ECONET NIGERIA AND SNAPS UP 51% OF DISTRIBUTOR SMARTCALL

Telecoms

As management contractor for Econet Wireless Nigeria, Vodacom is quickly putting its stamp on the operation. It has changed its name and bought control of one of the main pre-paid voucher channels it uses.

Last week Vodacom announced that it had snapped up 51 percent of prepaid cellphone voucher distributor Smartcall for an undisclosed amount. Vodacom said the transaction had already been given a nod by the Competition Commission. "The acquisition is in line with our strategy to gain control of our distribution chain," said Mthobi Tyamzashe, Vodacom’s group executive of corporate affairs. Smartphone SP, which is trading as Smartcall, has 2.72 million registered prepaid subscribers. Tyamzashe would not comment on market talk that Vodacom was also acquiring Nashua Mobile, a subsidiary of Reunert.

Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited, has officially become V-Network Nigeria Limited, trading under Vodacom International network brand and has registered the Vodacom trademark in the country. Apparently Vodacom Nigeria Limited could not be used in Nigeria by Vodacom because someone else had registered the name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) sometime in 1990. This Day reportsthat the company is trying to negotiate with the registered owner of the Vodacom Nigeria Limited company but pending the outcome of the negotiations, the company remains V-Network Nigeria Limited.

(SOURCES: Business Report, This Day, Odili)