Celtel buys up its 13th operator

27 May 2004

Rapidly expanding African mobile group Celtel has acquired a majority stake in Kenya’s second largest cellco KenCell, beating South Africa’s MTN in a bidding war. In a convoluted deal, Kenya’s family-run Sameer Group exercised its pre-emptive right to buy the 60% of KenCell it did not already own from Vivendi Universal for USD230 million, before selling the stake on to Celtel for USD250 million. Celtel now holds 60% of the cellco, whilst Sameer retains the remainder. The purchase lifts Celtel’s total subscriber base by 40% to more than four million, whilst taking its number of operators in Africa to 13, making it a serious rival to regional powerhouses MTN and Vodacom. A Celtel spokesperson said that there have been discussions to float the company on the stock market, though it is likely to seek one more acquisition in west Africa before this takes place.