Portugal Telecom to pay up to 135 million euros for Namibian mobile operator

28 March 2006

Lisbon, Portugal, 28 March – Portugal Telecom (PT) is set to pay up to 135 million euros for a 34 percent stake in a Namibian mobile telecommunications operator, a country in which it may soon face competition from China, Portuguese financial daily Jornal de Negócios reported Tuesday.

Namibian mobile company Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), of which PT has bought the stake, is currently the only mobile operator in Namibia, but a licensing process is currently underway to grant a second license, for which a local and a Chinese company are competing, according to the paper.

MTC’s financial director, Robert Offner, told Jornal de Negócios that the operator’s most recent valuations varied between 265 million euros and 397 million euros.

Thus, the final price payable for a 34 percent stake, in which South Africa’s MTN had also been interested, will vary between 90 million euros and 135 million euros.

According to Offner, PT’s proposal was chosen as it was considered, “the most favorable both in commercial terms and in terms of the conditions offered.”

The deal still requires final touches, particularly in terms of the company’s management, and approval from the Namibian government, which is the company’s main shareholder.

After the deal has been concluded there are plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of 15 percent of the company, and the State expects to retain 51 percent of its total capital.

MTC currently has 455,000 customers, and a network covering 86 percent of Namibia’s population.

The company’s turnover in 2005 totaled 113 million euros.

As well as Namibia, PT plans to enter the market of the Democratic Republic of Congo , in partnership with Angolan operator Unitel.

PT and Unitel acquired 51 percent of the holder of the GSM 900 to 1800 MHz license from Zimbabwe’s Cellco, which is due to begin operating in the second half of this year.

PT’s profit rose 4.9 percent year on year on 2005, to 654 million euros, the highest level in the company’s history. (macauhub)