MTN's acquisition of NetOne stake may fall through

30 Mar 2010

South African news service Bizcommunity reports that MTN’s planned acquisition of a 49% stake in Zimbabwean cellco NetOne could be in danger of collapsing after it was revealed that some members of the government are opposed to its privatisation. Finance Minister Tendai Biti is said to have told a parliamentary committee that there was growing discomfort over the sale. ‘Some of us are uncomfortable selling NetOne,’ Biti said. ‘We believe it [NetOne’s poor performance] is a management issue.’ The reports claims that Biti also said the mobile network business was ‘like printing money,’ and that there was no reason for NetOne to be in its current state when rival cellco Econet Wireless Zimbabwe was ‘making USD65 million every month.’

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, NetOne is currently the smallest wireless network operator by subscribers in Zimbabwe, despite being the first to launch. At the end of 2009 the company claimed approximately 10% of the country’s wireless subscriber market.

Zimbabwe, MTN Group, NetOne