MTN Nigeria may pull out of their Visafone deal

mtn

If Nigeria’s Communications Commission is determined to cancel MTN’s Christmas, the least they can do is be honest about it, FFS. Okay, okay, what am I talking about?

We started hearing chatter about MTN Nigeria’s acquisition of Visafone since mid-2015. The deal was okayed by the NCC in December 2015, and this year, they started testing their long-awaited 4G LTE service using the 800Mhz spectrum band they acquired from Visafone.

So, imagine how puzzled I was, when I woke up to write this here digest, and I found a story on TechCentral saying that MTN is considering pulling the plug on the $220m Visafone deal. They are having that conversation because the NCC woke up one day and “ruled” that the broadband spectrum shouldn’t be included in the acquisition deal. Apparently, it will “increase their dominance”.

No, shit. Because I could have sworn that the ENTIRE point of the acquisition was getting that spectrum and (like any sane business aims to do) increasing their market share (not inheriting the salaries of Visafone’s technical team). Now, according to this article, the NCC says it never approved the sale of Visafone’s spectrum to MTN.

I must have am-knee-sia, because I could have sworn that the NCC announced its approval of the spectrum sale in its OWN INTERNAL MAGAZINE. And even if I dreamt that entire webpage up, it’s been almost a year since the “sale”. What took them so long? Why didn’t they deny it back then? What’s happened between then and now? Hint: Etisalat is bringing an “antitrust” suit against MTN (this is a headline from Feb 8). My theory is that the other telcos have gone to lobby the NCC to shutter the deal because it will “further promote [MTN’s] dominant operatorship status in the country”

Oh, and also hidden in this report, “NCC promised to come up with price cap for wholesale services and price floor for retail services subject to periodic review while accounting separation will also be implemented.” Context: internet prices in Nigeria only started crashing because the NCC lifted its price floor.

I give you, government according to Nigerians.


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