Mauritius Telecom joins the hunt for Kencell

17 Jun 2003

Mauritius Telecom (MT) has joined South Africa’s MTN Group and Netherlands-based MSI Cellular in expressing an interest in acquiring Vivendi Universal’s 60% holding in Kenya’s second largest mobile operator KenCell. The heavily debt-laden French media conglomerate is keen to offload the Kenyan cellco and MT is eager to expand its African presence. The fixed and mobile operator for the Indian Ocean island is already in talks to purchase stakes in operations in Zambia and Uganda, and is focussing its efforts on companies – such as Vivendi, currently looking to cut some USD14.6 billion of debt – which are looking to withdraw from the market. MT chief executive Megh Pillay said the company preferred to pursue KenCell rather than vie for the country’s third mobile licence, set to be awarded by October, on the grounds that investing in the cellco made better sense than ‘starting from scratch’. MT is 40% owned by France Télécom and the government controls a further 34.45%. It made a net profit of USD37.7 million in its fiscal year to June 2001.