/ 8 January 2009

Tribunal gives green light to MTN deal

The Competition Tribunal on Thursday unconditionally approved cellphone operator MTN’s acquisition of a 69,4% stake in Verizon SA in a deal that is set to make MTN one the largest internet service providers to corporate clients in South Africa.

The speedy conclusion of the deal was due to local IT firm Altech withdrawing its hard-won opposing intervention in the hearings that were scheduled to run from today until January 14, after MTN gave it written assurances that it won’t hinder competition.

MTN said it has agreed to Altech’s request that MTN confirm in writing its intention to continue to treat MTN Network Solutions and Verizon SA on an equivalent basis to other industry players.

Altech and other competitors such as Internet Solutions – a unit of Dimension Data – had voiced concerns around bundling, input, customer foreclosure, the removal of an effective upstream infrastructure rival and avoidance of regulation.

MTN, which operates in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East, beat Altech to the deal to snatch the Verizon SA for R1,4-billion. — I-Net Bridge