Cell C confirms Telkom Mobile merger talks

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig has confirmed that the mobile operator has addressed talks of consolidation with Telkom Mobile.

Speaking to Stephen Grootes on Talk Radio 702’s Midday Report, the Cell C CEO answered questions about his claims that Vodacom is to blame for his company’s network problems, the recent R3.5 billion injection into the company, and the possiblity of consolidation in the market.

When specifically questioned on the matter of consolidation in the market, Knott-Craig said that it makes perfect sense and “we (Cell C) talk about it a lot”. He was, however, less certain that it will actually happen.

When pushed as to whether talks of a potential merger (vis-a-vis, consolidation) had happened between Telkom Mobile and Cell C, the chief executive conceded that “I have addressed it with them, yes”.

Knott-Craig has long said that there is no room for four mobile operators in South Africa, and that consolidation between firms was inevitable.

“Margins are thinning and smaller operators’ ability to compete is being hampered by lack of scale,” he previously told BusinessTech.

“In my view, there will be some form of consolidation or partnership in the industry in the near future. However, any decisions on consolidation or future partnerships involving Cell C would be for our shareholders to decide upon,” he said.

Speculation surrounding talks between Cell C and Telkom propped up early in 2012, after Business Day reported that the companies were currently “working on the finer details of a potential merger”, citing a source close to the matter.

However, both former Telkom CEO, Pinky Moholi, and current CEO, Sipho Maseko, dismissed claims that the company was looking at a merger deal with Cell C.

“We are not in talks (with Cell C) ,” Maseko told BusinessTech following the group’s results presentation on Friday (14 June).

“I’ve spoken with all the operators, not specifically Cell C,” Maseko said. “All options are on the table,” he added regarding possible future acquisitions.

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Cell C looking for partner: report

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Cell C confirms Telkom Mobile merger talks