Autopage delays its planned shutdown date

2016-02-15 13:32 - Gareth van Zyl, Fin24
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Johannesburg - Mobile service provider Altech Autopage has pushed back its planned shutdown date, which was originally anticipated for the end of this month.

On Friday, the Competition Tribunal approved the sale of Altech Autopage’s subscriber base to MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, subject to conditions pertaining to affected staff.

The approval, though, came after delays hit the regulation process amid a challenge from Altech Autopage’s largest customer Saicom Holdings in December last year.

Saicom Holdings’ challenge at the Competition Tribunal hearings in December resulted in the matter being sent back to the Competition Commission. But after investigating the matter further, the Competition Commission subsequently decided to stick to recommending the deal, opening the way for the Tribunal to approve the deal last week.

Prior to Saicom Holdings’ challenge of the deal, Altech Autopage’s former managing director, Boyd Chislett, last year told Fin24 that the mobile service provider planned to migrate “all three customer bases by the 29th of February”, depending on the regulatory process.

But that plan has changed, according to Altech Autopage’s new managing director Peter Wattrus.

“The anticipated closure date of 29 February will not be met due to the delay in approval from the regulator,” Wattrus told Fin24.

“Altech Autopage will communicate new timelines in due course. Until such time as the migration takes place, Altech Autopage will continue to service its clients,” said Wattrus.

Altech Autopage’s owner, Johannesburg listed Altron [JSE:AEL], announced in September last year that the Autopage subscriber base would be sold to MTN, Cell C and Vodacom for R1.46bn.

Altron said that its decision to “dispose of these subscriber bases has been based on, among others, the impact of the ongoing mobile termination rate (MTR) reductions, in addition to continued industry and consumer deflationary pressures”.

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