With a US$3.9 billion fine — imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission — looming in the background, MTN Nigeria has reportedly acquired Nigerian network operator Visafone Communications. News coming out of Nigeria, reported by the Nigeria based publication, Leadership, is that the deal has been completed with the two parties due to make statements to this fact before the end of this week.
This move is a firm statement by MTN that even with the US$3.9-billion fine circling above its head it has no intentions of exiting the Nigerian market.
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Founded in 2007, Visafone Communications is owned by one of Nigeria’s leading bankers and technology investors, Jim Ovia. Apart from owning Visafone, Ovia also owns Cybersapce, an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
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News of the deal were last whispered in April 2015. According to the Leadership newspaper, the deal allows MTN Nigeria to use Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum to launch fourth generation long term evolution (4GLTE) services.
There are no details about how much the deal is worth.
As part of the deal, it is reported that over two million of the existing Visafone subscribers will be moved onto the MTN Nigeria network, allowing them to continue to use their Visafone voice and data services. It will also let go of 2 000 employees, only keeping Visafone’s network transmission team.
The acquisition gives MTN much needed muscle in its mission to compete with its main competitor, Vodacom.