Portuguese gets Nam cellular bite

Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH), a wholly government-owned enterprise, said it had offered to sell 34 percent of the issued shares in Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) to Portugal Telecom. “The bidding process for a strategic partner was conducted in a transparent manner involving a public tendering process,” NPTH said in a statement. Company secretary Leezhel van Wyk said: “This is a tremendously exciting partnership for NPTH as Portugal Telecom will add real value to MTC as a shareholder with marketing and technical expertise that will accelerate access to world-class products and services.” Van Wyk expressed confidence that the deal would be concluded soon. MTC obtained its cellular telecommunications licence in Namibia in 1994 and has covered 45 percent of Namibia’s vast geographical area since it started operations in 1995. In a recently published company profile, MTC said it had a customer base of 420 000, which is nearly a quarter of the country’s population of 1.9 million. “This is a teledensity of some 23 percent and [is] comparable to neighbouring countries, with only South Africa and Botswana scoring higher penetration rates,” said MTC managing director Bengt Strenge. South Africa has a teledensity rate of 60 percent and Botswana’s rate is 41 percent. MTC was established in 1995 as a joint venture between NPTH and two Swedish enterprises, Telia Overseas and Swedfund International. In May 2004 NPTH acquired the 49 percent stake of the two Swedish partners. The cellphone communications company has up to now enjoyed a market monopoly for over a decade. However, the state-owned Namibia Communications Commission is in the process of opening the market to a second bidder by tender later this year. In anticipation of this, Namibia’s electricity utility, NamPower, established PowerCom in 2004. The consortium membership consists of a 51 percent Namibian ownership and 49 percent Norwegian ownership. The local partners are the Namibia Mineworkers’ Investment Holding Company through Zeven Investments, and Old Mutual Namibia. Telecom Management Partner (TMP) of Norway is the foreign shareholder in PowerCom. TMP is a fully owned subsidiary of Telenor, a company listed on Oslo’s stock exchange. The Norwegian government holds 63 percent of the TMP shares.

April 2006
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