BeMobile courting Vodacom?
The Minister of Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi last year hinted at the possibility of beMOBILE looking for technical partner though his said little had been concluded in that area.
beMobile, has been trailing its competitors, Mascom and Orange in offering the 3G cellphone technology. The BTCL Chief Executive Officer Paul Taylor, although not giving timelines, had recently highlighted that the company will soon roll out the 3G technology.
However, the technical partner in this regard is envisaged to enable beMobile to not only smoothly offer 3G technology but also prepare it to launch 4G technology, also known as LTE.
Recent reports say Vodacom has been working closely with the state owned mobile company and has offices at BTC headquarters leading to speculation that Vodacom could be about to buy beMobile.
BTCL’s spokesperson, Golekanye Molapisi has however refuted reports of a takeover saying “BTCL Management and Board are not aware of any pending takeover bid except for the Initial Public Offering (IPO) which is restricted to citizens only.”
In response to Minister Molefi’s statement last year that the mobile company could engage a technical partner, Molapisi said anything was possible as nobody can predict the future before referring further questions to the Ministry. Asked on the matter, molefhi said “the matter has not arisen. The major pre-occupation is the BTCL privatisation process.”
Richard Boorman of Vodacom would neither confirm nor deny interest in BeMobile, “we look at opportunities on a regular basis, but I can’t comment on particular companies or countries.”
Sometime in November 2013, a report by Biztech Africa suggested Vodacom was planning to become a ‘technical partner’ in bemobile, and would inject money into the company which could enable Bemobile to progress with its 3G rollout plan. According to the report a deal was expected to be announced within the next two months from November.
Vodacom, which currently powers Be-Mobile’s roaming capacity in Southern Africa, is owned by British company, Vodaphone, which also owns Kenya’s cellphone company, Safaricom.