South Africa round-up: Blue Label calls off buyout talks, settles dispute with Telkom; Tshwane to provide free VoIP, VoD over Wi-Fi in 2015

12 Dec 2014

JSE-listed pre-paid airtime provider Blue Label Telecoms has cancelled the acquisition talks with an unnamed suitor that had expressed an interest in buying it. ‘Blue Label considers that insufficient progress has been made in relation to the non-binding expression of interest received to merit shareholders remaining under cautionary. The company has terminated its engagement with the party that submitted the non-binding expression of interest’, a Stock Exchange News Service (SENS) announcement from the company said. TeleGeography notes that the operator received an acquisition offer for all of its shares in October 2014 and advised shareholders to exercise caution when dealing in their Blue Label shares.

Meanwhile, the airtime provider has announced that its long-standing dispute with South African telecoms operator Telkom have been ‘amicably resolved’. According to a Blue Label Telecom’s statement, the parties ‘agreed to settle their disputes on the basis that all claims and counterclaims are withdrawn and each party will be responsible for the payment of their own costs … All of the parties have agreed to withdraw all allegations of any wrongdoing which they made against each other in the course of advancing their various claims, counterclaims and defences.’ TeleGeography notes that in June 2011 Blue Label Telecoms’ Nigerian subsidiary – Africa Prepaid Services Nigeria (APSN) – instituted arbitration proceedings against Telkom’s then subsidiary Multi-links for USD457 million, following the termination of a ‘super dealer’ agreement between the Nigerian companies; for its part, Multi-links counterclaimed USD123 million. Telkom and Multi-links subsequently obtained a stay of the arbitration proceedings and instituted an action against Blue Label, APSN and two individuals for a total USD724 million.

In separate news, the city of Tshwane has announced that it will launch voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) and video-on-demand (VoD) services over its free Wi-Fi network in 2015, MyBroadband reports. The VoIP service will allow users of the Wi-Fi network to place calls to one another for free via the Tshwane Voice mobile application. The VoD service, dubbed’ Wi-Fi Drive Inn’, meanwhile will be available at selected locations around the municipality, and will provide users with access to a collection of movies, including ‘some of the latest Hollywood blockbusters’. TeleGeography notes that under the second phase of the ZAR150 million (USD14.14 million) Wi-Fi rollout project, which is currently being implemented in partnership with non-profit movement Isizwe, the city government will deploy 600 additional Wi-Fi hotspots, which will support a combined capacity of one million users.

South Africa, Multi-links, Telkom South Africa