South Africa’s MTN Group has initiated the process of acquiring Nigerian CDMA network operator Visafone Communications, Bloomberg cites two people familiar with the matter as saying. The move is aimed at strengthening the position of Johannesburg-based MTN in Africa’s largest mobile market and rapidly developing internet sector. Lagos-based Visafone was formed in June 2007 by Nigerian businessman Jim Ovia, but the firm has faced increasing competition from more popular GSM-based services. Mobile subscriber numbers have fallen steadily since reaching a peak of 2.801 million at mid-2009; by the end of 2014 Visafone’s mobile customer base had dropped to 2.17 million, giving it a market share of 1.6%, compared to market leader MTN with 59.80 million subscribers (42.9%). ‘We will send a holding statement at the appropriate time,’ the report quotes a message from Funmilayo Onajide, a spokeswoman for MTN Nigeria, as saying.
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