The MTN Group, Africa’s largest mobile-phone company,on Tuesday is reported seeking to acquire Vodafone Group’s wireless venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to Bloomberg, “MTN was part of a bidding process for Vodacom Congo SPRL, which is 51% owned by Vodacom Group, controlled by Vodafone”.
Vodacom is said to have been in a dispute with its local partner, Congolese Wireless Network SPRL, over funding and operational structure since at least early 2010, following a $484 million capital injection into the business by Vodacom.
If successful in its acquisition, MTN would follow France Telecom (FT) as the second large group, with experience in developing African markets, to seek entrance into the DRC mobile market this year. Earlier this month, FT confirmed that it had agreed to purchase the Congolese government’s 49% stake in Congo Chine Telecom and is currently involved in talks to arrange the purchase of the remaining 51% from Chinese vendorZTE. MTN and FT would compete with local subsidiaries of Luxembourg’s Tigo and Indian-backed Bharti Airtel in a market.