The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) last week held a public hearing on the acquisition of Samba Dutchco B.V’s 34 percent stake in MTC by the State-owned Namibian Post and Telecom Holdings Limited (NPTH
If this deal is approved by the NaCC, it means that NPTH will have a 100 percent stake in MTC. The Government has previously said that it will find a technical partner for MTC, once the shares have been transferred from Samba.
Absent from the Windhoek hearing was the communication industry regulator, CRAN and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MICT).
With several key stakeholders missing and the NPTH and Samba refusing to answer several questions due to confidentially clauses in their contract negotiations, the meeting, which was slated to last for four hours, only lasted for just over an hour.
Some of the members of the public who attended the hearing felt that the Government through NPTH was not the right vehicle to hold the shares.
Chairman of Eos Capital, Johannes !Gawaxab, who attended the hearing as an investor, wondered why the Government wants to compete with itself by owning both Telecom Namibia and MTC Namibia.
“The two business entities will be competing, while being owned by Government, this is unsustainable,” !Gawaxab said.
Another member of the public, who attended the hearing, wondered how MTC under total Government control would keep up with technological advances in the telecom sector.
The Namibian Competition Commission CEO, Vitalis Ndalikokule, said the commission would take into account all the concerns expressed at the hearing before making a final recommendation.
The commission will also ask NPTH and Samba Dutchco B.V to answer in writing to the commission, issues they said they could not disclose in a public forum. Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, announced late last year that the Government will use funds from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) to buy the remaining 34 percent stake in MTC.
The shares were previously owned by Portugal Telecom. Samba is incorporated in Luxembourg.
In June, Brazilian telecoms group Oi, which owned Portugal Telecom said that Samba, Oi’s investment partner in developing markets’ holding company, Africatel B.V. (Africatel), agreed to reduce its Africatel stake from 25 percent to 14 percent, thereby increasing Oi’s Africatel ownership to 86 percent. In exchange, Africatel transferred to Samba its stake in MTC.