Cell C up for sale: report

Cell C’s largest shareholder Oger Telecom is looking at selling its stake in the company, Reuters reported. Cell C is 75%-owned by the Lebanese firm.

Oger Telecom chairman Mohammed Hariri told Reuters they appointed Goldman Sachs to help with the process of selling its Cell C shareholding.

Reuters quoted Hariri as saying that “if we get a good price, we will sell”. He added they have been approached by several interested parties, but a decision is yet to be made.

Hariri said the decision to sell the stake in Cell C was triggered by the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (Icasa’s) revised termination rates.

In February Bloomberg reported that Cell C was working with Goldman Sachs to explore its options in SA, including a possible sale.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said a possible sale would be to “domestic competitors”.

In response to the claims, Cell C told BusinessTech that it could not comment on shareholder matters, but provided an official comment from Oger Telecom.

At the time, the telecoms group said that it was “fully committed” to Cell C.

“Oger Telecom Limited, the controlling shareholder (of Cell C), is fully committed to Cell C and its growth plans,” it said.

“We are pleased with the progress made by the company over the last 2 years, and Cell C continues to have sufficient resources to meet its near term obligations.”

In January 2015 Saudi Telecom wrote off a R1.2 billion investment in Oger, attributing the impairment to its investment in Cell C.

Cell C’s financial woes are well-known within the industry, and its battles – including campaigns against the dominance of other players, as well as layoffs and network issues – have been highly publicized over the past few years.

Cell C has long indicated that it is not opposed to being acquired by another company.

Former Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig was vocal in his stance that there is no room for four mobile operators in South Africa, and consolidation between firms was inevitable.

As early as 2012, speculation was rife that Cell C was in talks with parties over a possible sale.

Initial rumours pointed to a possible merger between Cell C and Telkom. Cell C later confirmed that talks had taken place.

The operator has also been linked to infrastructure-sharing talks with MTN, as well as banking group FNB.

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Cell C up for sale: report