South Africa’s largest mobile network company, the MTN Group, has labelled as ‘pure fabrication’ recent local media reports that it was planning a hostile takeover of local mobile operator, Mascom Wireless.
However the group confirmed its 53 percent stake to Sunday Standard but pointed out that it is an indirect shareholding which it holds through two companies DECI and Econet Wireless Citizens.
The group says it has not discussed any plans to increase its stake in Mascom but pointed out that as a shareholder, it is involved in optimising the performance of the business and the quality of service it delivers in the market.
The South African mobile network group says that in line with its preferred business model, the company works with local entities in investments in most of the countries where it operates.
“As an emerging markets operator, this model is in keeping with our commitment to improve telecommunications in the countries where we operate. We also wish to reiterate that the report that appeared in local media in Botswana on Friday, 24 January 2014, under the headline “MTN in hostile takeover of Mascom’ is untrue and baseless.”
The group’s press office told Sunday Standard that the suggestion that MTN is engaged in talks to acquire 100 percent shareholding in Mascom Botswana “are not only misleading, but pure fabrication.”
In addition, the group said that the relations between itself and business partners as well as co-shareholders in Mascom Botswana remain cordial. This week, MTN, together with one of the shareholders, Botswana Pubic Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), published paid advertisements in the local media to dismiss the reports.
“BPOPF is not selling its Mascom shares nor has it been involved in any discussions to that effect. Therefore any intimation about BPOPF’s intention to sell any Mascom shares cannot farther from the truth,” a paid advertisement circulated by BPOPF read.
Mascom, a company founded by Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa was licensed on February 17th 1998 as one of the two companies to establish, maintain and operate a GSM Mobile network in Botswana. Over the years, Mascom has steadily deployed its services across Botswana with small villages and communities around Botswana being connected to telecommunications.
In June 2012, the company announced the aggressive expansion of 3.5G technology, which upon completion will see close to 80 percent of the country’s population enjoying the super-fast broadband access, with speeds of up to 21 Mbps.
The company executives say that concurrent to the 3.5G deployment, the 2.5G network was also upgraded to increase capacity by over 50 percent. At the same time it has launched the 4G LTE pilot project which positions it among the first in the SADC region to announce the advanced technology.