The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has said that it has not been informed of any planned transactions with regards to Cell C, but that any transaction must comply with the regulation.
In a statement released today, ICASA said it noted the media reports about Cell C’s “financial difficulties”, ongoing discussions about roaming agreements, and the “purported acquisition” of Cell C.
“ICASA appreciates and welcomes the efforts and measures being taken to ensure the continued existence of Cell C,” it said.
“This is primarily because ICASA believes that the failure of Cell C would have adverse effects on the stability of South Africa’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, and undermine the public policy objectives of ensuring that the South African public has access to a wide range of communications services at affordable prices.”
The statement follows recent reports that Telkom has offered to buy the troubled network operator, as well as indications that Cell C may be transferring its entire network infrastructure to MTN to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
ICASA warned the parties that they are required to formally notify the Authority of any transactions.
“In this regard, ICASA would like to caution all parties to ensure that the necessary regulatory compliance requirements pertaining to purported transactions are adequately fulfilled,” ICASA said.
Cell C’s financial woes are well-known. The operator recorded an after-tax net loss of R8.03 billion for the year ended 31 May 2019.
Last month, Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson told Financial Mail that it was considering handing over all of its towers to MTN and roaming on its network.
Cell C told Bloomberg it was at an “advanced stage” with these discussions.
It is also reportedly weighing up an offer by the Buffet Consortium, which is considering the acquisition of a minority shareholding in the company.