NTT Said to Mull Sale of African Business Worth $800 Million

  • Phone company open to buyers for Dimension Data operations
  • MTN may be interested; management buyout an alternative option

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. is considering the sale of African operations it acquired with the takeover of Dimension Data Holdings Ltd. and is open to approaches from interested buyers, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The assets are valued by Japan’s former phone monopoly at about $800 million, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter hasn’t been made public. A final decision hasn’t been reached and a deal may not be concluded, they said. Grant Bodley, chief executive officer of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa, said NTT isn’t looking to sell the business.

One potential outcome is that MTN Group Ltd. buys NTT’s Johannesburg-based Internet Solutions business, which is part of Dimension Data, said one of the people. Africa’s biggest wireless carrier by sales is seeking to expand into internet services for businesses to boost growth in its home market of South Africa and compete with rivals such as Telkom SA SOC Ltd.’s fast-growing BCX unit.

Representatives at NTT and Dimension Data in Tokyo wouldn’t immediately comment. MTN didn’t respond to an email sent for comment and couldn’t be reached when several phone calls were made.

Dimension Data’s management are considering whether to offer to buy back the company and re-list on a stock exchange, two of the people said. A sale would come seven years after NTT expanded into Africa with the 2.1 billion-pound ($2.7 billion) acquisition of the company, which has 31,000 employees and offices in 49 countries.

NTT, based in Tokyo, is the owner of Japan’s biggest mobile-phone company, NTT Docomo. The shares traded 0.6 percent lower at 5,238 yen by the market close on Friday, paring the year’s gains to 6.6 percent.

— With assistance by Grace Huang, and Colin McClelland

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