According to an unconfirmed report by Jeune Afrique, ailing Ivorian mobile operator Comium has attracted takeover interest from India’s Bharti Airtel and UK-based Vodafone Group. The cellco generated sales of just XOF372.9 million (USD707,909) in the year ended 31 December 2013, as its user base slumped from 1.452 million to 820,887.
Last month Ivorian communications minister Bruno Nabagne Kone urged the country’s three smallest operators – Comium, GreenN and Cafe Mobile – to consider merging their respective operations in an effort to strengthen their weak positions. In reality, the combination of three minnows’ operations would achieve very little, and the companies remain far likelier to be swallowed up by one of their larger rivals: MTN, Orange and Moov.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, September 2013 saw speculation emerge that Vietnam’s Viettel Group was keen to strike a deal for Comium, and had edged in front of fellow suitor Airtel, although no deal ever transpired. For its part, Vodafone’s African unit Vodacom remains keen to line up ‘bolt-on’ deals within sub-Saharan Africa, despite a noted lack of M&A activity in recent years.