MVNO Monday: a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

27 Apr 2020

Australian MVNO-turned-energy provider amaysim has reportedly hired Luminis Partners to manage a ‘bespoke’ sale of its business. According to the Australian Financial Review, a ‘handful of interested parties’ are performing due diligence on the company – notably private equity firms and utility providers – as amaysim explores its options. Previously, amaysim was dogged with private equity-driven takeover speculation in December 2019, but no deal materialised at that time. The MVNO ended 31 December 2019 with a ‘recurring mobile subscriber base’ of 706,000, including 41,000 acquired via the takeover of smaller MVNO rival Jeenee Communications, which closed on 30 November 2019.

Polish cellco Play has announced that it has entered into a preliminary agreement to buy local MVNO Virgin Mobile Polska for PLN60.7 million (USD14.5 million). Play will acquire 100% of the reseller from its partners and major investors including Delta Partners TMT Emerging Markets Growth Fund II and Dirlango Trading & Investments. Virgin Mobile Polska had an estimated 396,000 customers at the end of 2019. It launched in August 2012, reselling capacity on the Play network.

Lycamobile Uganda has activated its commercial service, offering a mixture of daily, weekly and monthly tariffs, after first unveiling plans to enter the country in January this year. Question marks remain over the company’s status, however, with Lycamobile not appearing on the most recent list (1 April) of licensees published by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Last month local blog Techjaja.com observed that ‘compliance issues regarding the new licensing framework’ had delayed Lycamobile’s commercial launch, restricting it to trial status. It has been suggested that Lycamobile facilitated its launch by acquiring fixed-wireless 4G player Tangerine, although no official confirmation of such a deal has been forthcoming.

Finally, a DISH Network official has informed Light Reading that the satellite TV giant remains focused on its USD1.4 billion acquisition of Sprint sub-brand Boost Mobile despite the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is understood that the transaction – one of the pre-conditions of the recent merger between Sprint and larger rival T-Mobile US – must close within one month of the closing of the T-Mobile takeover, which concluded on 1 April. Muddying the waters, it has also been suggested that the deal is permitted to close no later than 15 days after T-Mobile enables DISH with wholesale access to its network – something which the MNO is required to do within 90 days of the aforementioned 1 April takeover. The Boost deal was agreed in July 2019 alongside a USD3.6 billion sale of 800MHz Sprint spectrum. DISH expects to transition from an MVNO to an MNO by 2022.

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