Vodacom has announced it will proceed with the acquisition of Neotel – but has dropped the group’s spectrum from the deal.
In a market update, Vodacom said it will no longer acquire Neotel’s licences for spectrum, and its ECN and ECNS licences.
The mobile operator will still acquire all assets relating to Neotel’s fixed-line business.
However, the group will still gain access to Neotel’s spectrum through other means – Neotel will offer a roaming arrangement to all the mobile network operators including Vodacom.
Vodacom and Neotel have submitted to the Competition Tribunal the signed transaction documentation in respect of the restructured transaction.
The Competition Tribunal will consider the new transaction at a pre-hearing set down for 10 December 2015.
The Competition Tribunal called off a hearing regarding the original Vodacom-Neotel merger in late November, after Vodacom announced plans to restructure the R7-billion deal.
The deal has faced heavy opposition and threats of legal action from all network operators over the issue of Neotel’s spectrum.
Vodacom’s competitors believe that gaining access to Neotel’s spectrum through the deal would have put the operator at an unfair advantage.
Spectrum is vital to all operators to roll out next-generation networks which offer higher speeds and better quality. Government has been sitting on the resource for a number of years, and consistently fails at opening it up to companies.