MTN, Africa’s leading mobile phone operator, has finally sealed the deal to acquire Visafone, the only surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator in Nigeria, owned by the banking magnate, Mr. Jim Ovia.
The acquisition of Visafone, the only surviving CDMA operator in Nigeria, by MTN, a GSM operator, marks the final death of CDMA operations in Africa’s largest economy.
Though, MTN is yet to make official announcement of the acquisition, but inside sources confirmed the development to Daily Trust reporter.
Contrary to the initial report about the deal that MTN is not taking along the purchase of the CDMA company with its liabilities, sources said the telecoms giant has acquired the staggering Visafone with all its properties, including its spectrum and liabilities.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 employees were disengaged with effect from January 5, 2016, and were paid three months’ salaries as severance package.
The only categories of employees said to be left were those in the personnel and transmission departments.
One of the affected workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the sacking came as a surprise to many of them.
“We learnt that the management would downsize, but we were told that that would be later in 2016. It is, however, surprising that they are sending majority of us away so early in the year. Though they paid three months’ severance benefits, but should it be this way?
“Some of us have put in five to 10 years of our lives in keeping the business going, but see what we are getting now. It is well.”
A senior management employee at Visafone confirmed the sacking, but was quick to refer media enquiries to MTN because he was not authorised to speak on the deal.
After months of negotiations, Africa’s largest telecoms operator, MTN, sealed the deal to acquire Visafone, the leading CDMA operator in Nigeria.
According to sources in the telecoms industry, the acquisition is expected to provide MTN the robust voice and data platform of Visafone and cater for the booming internet population in Nigeria.
An industry source, who confirmed that the transaction had been concluded, but could not divulge how much MTN paid to acquire Visafone, said: “It’s certainly a multimillion naira deal because Visafone was the largest CDMA operator in the country.
“The acquisition is expected to ensure high quality data services and improve mobile broadband experience for subscribers of Visafone and MTN.
“The merger is also expected to provide the much-needed relief to the booming internet economy by making available quality mobile broadband services adopting the state of the art 4G LTE technologies during the year.”
With about 150 million mobile subscribers and about 97 million internet users, Nigeria ranks among the fastest growing countries in terms of mobile subscribers and data penetration.
However, the vast majority of the 97 million internet users today are limited to narrow band internet at 2G/3G speed.
Presently, majority of data users use 2G/3G technologies but it is estimated that LTE users will constitute 80 per cent of all data users by 2019.
Putting court cases aside, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given the final regulatory approval to the acquisition of Visafone Communications Limited, Nigeria’s surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator by MTN Nigeria.
The deal which was sanctioned in late December 2015 allows MTN Nigeria to utilise Visafone’s 800MHz spectrum to launch fourth generation long term evolution (4GLTE) services.