Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, expects its on-off joint acquisition of smaller rival Essar Telecom Kenya (yu) to be completed within a matter of months, at a cost of around USD120 million. The development was confirmed by Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, who spoke to Bloomberg at the US-Africa Leader’s Summit in Washington DC. The deal – first unveiled in March this year – will see India’s Essar Group sell its sell its Kenyan base stations and transmission infrastructure to Safaricom and offload its customer base to Airtel Kenya. With all regulatory objections now withdrawn, Collymore told the news agency: ‘I am hoping we can close this in a couple of months.’
When quizzed on the potential arrival of Viettel Group, which has lodged a bid for Orange Group’s 70% stake in Telkom Kenya, Collymore conceded that the Vietnamese company’s arrival would ‘change the game quite a bit’, adding: ‘The Vietnamese are fiercely competitive and very low cost. When we look at what they did in Mozambique, they changed the game. We’re all going to have to knuckle down and deal with that.’ Last month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Viettel bid KES10.6 billion (USD118.6 million) for Orange’s stake in the ailing telco, around half of the KES25 billion bid tabled by Nigeria’s MegaTech Engineering.