Vodacom South Africa has revealed that it is in discussions with Neotel to explore a ‘revised transaction structure’ in regards to its ZAR7 billion (USD566 million) acquisition of the rival operator, which prompted the two parties to request the postponement of the hearings in front of the country’s Competition Tribunal, Business Day reports. Vodacom said the outcome of the new discussions with Neotel ‘will directly impact the extent of the approval being sought from the Competition Tribunal and the scope of the Competition Tribunal hearing’. The two companies have been given two weeks to agree on a new structure and present it to the competition authority by 7 December.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2014 Vodacom agreed to acquire the smaller operator from its majority-owner Tata Communications of India. Despite the vehement opposition of rival operators MTN South Africa and Cell C, the country’s telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) gave its conditional approval to the deal in June 2015, imposing a number of rollout requirements on the two operators. The deal however is still subject to approval from the country’s antitrust authorities. If the Competition Tribunal decides to approve the acquisition, it is highly likely that it would also impose a range of conditions on the tie-up.