South African-based mobile group MTN has announced that it will sell up to 50% of shares in its wholly owned subsidiary MTN Cyprus (formerly Areeba) in several stages for an undisclosed price, to Amaracos Holding, a company owned by Cyprus Trading Corporation (CTC, 51%, itself controlled by Cypriot firm N K Shacolas Group), and the local branch of phone retailer Germanos (49%, itself part of the Greek telecoms group OTE). MTN Group and Amaracos Holding will enter a joint venture agreement, with MTN retaining management responsibility for the Cypriot cellco and Amaracos ‘contributing local insight.’ As part of the deal MTN Cyprus will acquire 100% of Infotel, a domestic handset retailer trading under the Germanos name, and 100% of ISP OTEnet (Cyprus), which CTC fully acquired from original owner OTE in March. MTN Group President and CEO, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, said: ‘This transaction is intended to broaden the ownership of MTN Cyprus and further reaffirms MTN’s commitment to enabling greater local representation. MTN Cyprus will now have a wider distribution platform as well as be able to provide fully converged telecommunications services.’
CTC is the largest trading organisation in Cyprus, with wide-ranging import businesses as well as a stake in the Hermes consortium in charge of Larnaca and Paphos airports. MTN owns its Cypriot unit via its consolidated subsidiary Investcom, based in Lebanon, which it acquired in May 2006. CommsUpdate reported in October 2007 that N K Shacolas Group was looking at buying into MTN Cyprus, which operates 2G and 3G networks and had 120,000 mobile subscribers at the end of March 2008, giving it around 13% of the market, led by state-run Cytamobile.