Africa’s Biggest Broadband Network Owner Considers Share Sale

  • Liquid Telecom completes purchase of Neotel for $500 Million
  • Will decide on bourse, timing after integrating acquisition

Liquid Telecom, a unit of Econet Wireless Global Ltd., is considering a sale of shares on a stock market after completing the $500 million purchase of Neotel Pty Ltd. to create the largest broadband network in Africa.

“A possible listing would be very likely,” Chief Executive Officer Nic Rudnick said in an interview in Johannesburg on Thursday. “At the moment we are focused on the integration of the acquisition and making it a success.”

The bourse and the timing of a potential listing haven’t been decided, the CEO said. The company, founded and run by Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, has arranged the $500 million financing needed to complete the Neotel acquisition from Tata Communications Ltd. of India and reduce the company’s debt, according to Rudnick.

Liquid Telecom agreed to buy Neotel in June alongside Royal Bafokeng Holdings, a South African empowerment investment group. The closely held company pounced after Vodacom Group Ltd. abandoned its bid to buy Neotel after almost two years of regulatory battles. The acquisition gives Liquid access to South African businesses and homes and about 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) of cross-border fiber networks.

Royal Bafokeng will take a 30 percent stake in Neotel and help to recapitalize the company. Empowerment firms are typically black owned and seek to take advantage of a South African government initiative to compensate those discriminated against during apartheid.

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