Vodacom. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Johannesburg – Vodacom agreed to buy a 34.94% shareholding in Safaricom, giving the wireless operator majority control of Kenya’s biggest company, the company announced on Monday.
Vodacom, 65% owned by the UK mobile-phone company Vodafone, said the proposed transaction presents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant strategic interest in the premier telecom operator in East Africa.
The stake is owned by the Kenyan government and is valued at 284 billion shillings (R36.7bn), based on Safaricom’s current share price. Vodafone already owns almost 40% of the Kenyan company directly.
"Safaricom is owned by the government of Kenya (35%), Vodafone Kenya (39.93%), public investors (25%) and Safaricom employees (0.07%)," Vodacom said on Monday.
The acquisition gives Newbury, England-based Vodafone control of two of Africa’s biggest mobile-phone companies, the market leaders in their respective home markets, and follows deals in India and the Netherlands. For its part, Nairobi-based Safaricom is under pressure from lawmakers and regulators because of its dominant position in the market, and is facing calls to split.
Vodacom, based in Johannesburg, will report full-year earnings on Monday. The shares rose 0.25% to R152.49 on Friday, valuing the company at R227bn.