Portuguese telcos Zon Multimedia and Optimus have announced that their respective boards have unanimously approved plans to merge the two companies, with all Optimus assets and liabilities scheduled to be transferred to Zon’s control. The merger is based on an exchange ratio that grants Zon a value corresponding to 1.5 times the value of Optimus. As such, Zon will increase its share capital and duly grant Optimus’ stake-holders new shares representing 40% of the enlarged company’s equity. Following the merger the new company will adopt ‘Zon Optimus’ as its corporate name. A press release issued by Zon explains: ‘The merger will result in a group capable of investing and promoting its own and the sector’s competitiveness, of creating greater shareholder value and new opportunities for employees, clients and suppliers. It will create a new group with a sustainable strategy for growth, international expansion and optimised management and in which the sharing of experience and expertise between the teams will play a decisive role’.
The merger, which was first revealed in December 2012, is reportedly being spearheaded by Zon’s largest shareholder Angolan businesswoman, Isabel dos Santos. The daughter of Angola’s president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, dos Santos currently holds the two largest equity stakes in Zon through a pair of holding companies: Jadeium (18.80%) and Kento Holding (10.00%); last year it was revealed that Jadeium will soon be renamed Unitel International Holdings, in line with the Angolan mobile operator that dos Santos holds a 25% stake in.
Full-service telecoms provider Optimus, owned by Portuguese conglomerate Sonae’s Sonaecom communications arm, currently offers wireless, broadband and wireline services in Portugal, and presides over nationwide fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. Meanwhile, cableco Zon Multimedia comprises the assets spun off from Portugal Telecom’s PT Multimedia cable unit in November 2007. Zon also owns pay-TV units in both Angola and Mozambique, which operate under the ‘Zap’ brand. Last month, Mario Leite Silva, who led dos Santos’ negotiations on the merger, suggested that the deal could pave the way for an international expansion strategy for the enlarged company, explaining: ‘If the merger goes ahead it could lead to a deepening of the multinational strategy, extending it to other regions, which would allow the new company to be present, simultaneously, in complementary markets’. Speculation abounds that Zon/Optimus will attempt to extend its reach to former Portuguese colonies such as Angola and Mozambique.