South Africa’s Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri has granted both of the bidding consortia - CommuniTel and Two Consortium - a 13% shareholding in the new SNO. Although all parties were putting a positive gloss on the outcome, the result is a mess. There are now a considerable number of shareholders with no clear single investor to drive the business forward. There are two completely different business plans that will need to be integrated. And the Government is warehousing 25% of the shares in the happy hope that an international shareholder will want to join the party at a later stage.

The statement from the Minister said: "After engaging extensively in discussions with interested parties on the SNO, I have decided to grant CommuniTel and Two Consortium 26% equity in the SNO, of which each will hold 13%. Both parties have agreed to accept the offer. The unallocated 25% equity will remain with government, which will take responsibility for seeing that this portion is warehoused".

"The SNO licence will be issued by Icasa to the integrated entity composed of CommuniTel, Two Consortium, Esitel, Transtel and Nexus Connection. The above entities are currently engaged in an integration process, which is expected to be finalized shortly".

"This is really good news for us, as we can now begin to put our assets and people to work. The decision is one that was overdue, but we also understand that government processes do take time," says Dr Enos Banda, CEO of Eskom Enterprises, which owns Esi Tel."There are still many issues that need to be sorted out amongst the various parties, including issues such as the business plan and shareholder structure, but we will be working hard on them."

"It is good that the licence has finally been awarded and the DoC must be commended for the good work that was done behind the scenes over the past few months," says Nexus chairman, Kennedy Memani.

Mike van den Bergh, a CommuniTel director, says that this is a good first step. "At least this means that we now have a clear understanding of the ownership of the SNO," he says.

"There is still a huge amount of work to be done in terms of the integration process, but at least we now have a good base from which to build, and I believe that the SNO entity will continue to evolve as we move forward." (SOURCES: Press statement, ItWeb)