According to reports in the Nigerian press, UK giant Vodafone is said to be interested in acquiring a majority stake in UAE-registered Mubadala Development Company (MDC), which in January this year paid USD400 million for a unified access service licence in Nigeria. The national concession permits MDC to offer a range of services including local, long-distance and international voice telephony services, and mobile and internet access services, and includes GSM spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. If Vodafone does go ahead and acquire a 51% stake, it would be flying in the face of a recent shareholders agreement with the UK group’s South African partner Vodacom which allowed the latter to manage expansion in the northern half of Africa. Nigeria is the continent’s second largest market, with, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, over 32 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2006, but a penetration rate of only 22%, leaving plenty of room for growth. MDC is hoping to launch commercial GSM operations during the first quarter of 2008.