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

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7 Jun 2021

Polish telco Polkomtel, which operates the Plus mobile network, has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to acquire control of Premium Mobile from PM 1 Mobile Holdings and WBN Holding. Polkomtel will pay PLN35.5 million (USD9.7 million) for the 28.01% stake held by PM 1 (subject to adjustments), with the price for WBN’s 53.69% stake still to be determined. Premium Mobile has signed up a total of 425,000 active users since its launch in 2016, of which around 70% are on post-paid contracts. The MVNO generated revenues of PLN125 million in 2020, up 37% year-on-year. The completion of the transaction is dependent on obtaining antimonopoly consent from the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection.

The Belgian Competition Authority has approved, without conditions, a transaction which will see Proximus Group acquire Mobile Vikings. Mobile Vikings and sister company JIM Mobile, which is also included in the transaction, serve a total of 335,000 customers. Proximus notes that the decision allows it – and the seller, DPG Media – to finalise the procedure ‘in the coming days’, unless the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) opts to intervene. The transaction is valued at EUR130 million (USD158.7 million). In 2020 Mobile Vikings generated revenue of EUR50 million and EBITDA of EUR15 million. Guillaume Boutin, CEO of Proximus Group, commented: ‘I want to make Mobile Vikings the undisputed leading brand for the Belgian youth. Mobile Vikings brings that daring touch to our brand portfolio; the perfect complement to the Scarlet and Proximus offers.’

Singapore’s mDR Group, an after-market service provider for consumer mobile products, will launch an MVNO in early July, the Business Times reports, citing a regulatory filing. As per the report, pre- and post-paid services will be offered under the ZYM Mobile brand name.

GreatCall, the California-based MVNO that was acquired by BestBuy for USD800 million in 2018, has been rebranded as Lively. The MVNO is active within the ‘connected health’ sector, providing health and safety products to older adults. Mobile services available from Lively include fall detection, Lively Rides and brain games. The MVNO offers services via the nationwide Verizon Wireless network.

UK B2B player Gamma Communications has strengthened its partnership with Three UK, which it says will allow Gamma Mobile customers to gain access to ‘the latest mobile technology as soon as it becomes available’. Chris Wade, Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Gamma, commented: ‘Mobile is increasingly important to Gamma’s overall product portfolio … Through this partnership, we are bringing to the market some elements unique to this offering, such as Three’s Cloud Core network and 5G capabilities, and our innovative business tariffing, coupled with all the technical aspects that customers would expect from their mobile service, such as VoLTE and Native VoWiFi.’

Australian B2B player Vonex has reached an agreement to acquire part of MNF Group’s ‘Direct Business’, in a deal worth AUD31 million (USD24 million). Vonex currently offers mobile (via Optus and Telstra), PSTN, IP telephony and fixed broadband services, and the deal will enable the company to bolster its residential/SME business. As previously reported by MVNO Monday, MNF divested its SIM-only MVNO Pennytel earlier this year.

Finally, Dallas-based SqwaQ, which describes itself as an ‘SD-WAN and MVNO pioneer’ has announced that it is ‘inviting and exploring mergers and acquisition opportunities’. The company says it ‘seeks acquisition by a major stakeholder serving mobile industrial IoT or robotics technology for autonomous vehicles’. SqwaQ notes that its platform is currently able to access 600 networks across 130 countries.

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Australia, Belgium, Poland, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Gamma Communications, JIM Mobile, Lively (formerly GreatCall), mDR Group (ZYM Mobile), MNF Group, Mobile Vikings (Belgium), Plus (Polkomtel), Premium Mobile, Proximus, SqwaQ, Vonex