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Globacom tables $600m for Ivorian telco in regional expansion push

By on May 7, 2015

Competition in West Africa’s telecommunications market is expected to intensify following plans by Globacom, Nigeria’s national carrier, to acquire Ivorian mobile operator, Comium Cote d’Ivoire, in a $600 million deal, informed sources have said.

Globacom, owned by business magnate, Mike Adenuga, is embarking on a regional expansion push as the telecoms company pushes to wrest control off its closest rivals, South African based duo of MTN, Vodacom, and India’s Bharti Airtel.

According to Telegeography, Globacom was lodging a $600 million takeover bid for Comium Cote d’Ivoire, a company entangled in massive debt and cash flow issues.

If the multi-million dollar acquisition deal, which is already within radar, goes through, Globacom would have succeeded in shoring up its cross-border terrestrial network, which currently connects 14 West African countries. The deal, when completed, would further accelerate the growth of internet and mobile data service across the sub-region.

The deal will also put Globacom in pole position to provide advanced communications services to global companies and multinationals looking to deepen their presence across the West African sub-region. The company invested $600 million in 9, 800-kilometre submarine communications cable, which is along the west coast of Africa, between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Globacom, second national operator, which already owns an international carrier services licence in Cote d’Ivoire, reportedly plans to invest over $1 billion in upgrading Comium-CI’s network over three years. Comium CI had more than 900,000 mobile subscribers, according to L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications. It is a subsidiary of Comium Group, a Lebanon-based telecommunications company owned by Lebanese businessman, Nizar Dalloul.

The group operates as a multi-service provider on four continents, specialising in wireless data networks, GSM communications, internet service provision and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Comium CI is heavily enmeshed in debt to the tune of more than $25 million and has been given until May 15, 2015 to pay off its debts or risk being placed into receivership.

Mike Adenuga, 63, is the second richest man in Nigeria with a fortune currently estimated by FORBES at $4.2 billion. He owes his fortune to his ownership of telecoms outfit Globacom, and Conoil Producing, a Nigerian oil exploration firm that operates 6 oil blocks in the Niger Delta.

In August 2003, Glo Mobile was launched in Nigeria. Glo Mobile introduced lower tariffs; pay per second billing and alongside other value added services. Although Glo Mobile was the fourth GSM operator to launch in Nigeria, within seven years of the company’s operation, its subscriber base grew to over 25 million. In June 2008, Glo Mobile was launched in the Republic of Benin. Glo Mobile showed unprecedented growth through the sale of 600,000 SIM cards in the first ten days of operation. Glo Mobile offers per second billing, which charges subscribers for the exact airtime used. They are currently offering value added services such as MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), Glo Magic Plus news and information, vehicle tracking, musical ring-back tones and mobile banking.

In May 2008, Glo acquired an operating licence through its Glo Mobile division in Ghana. In October 2009, Glo acquired submarine cable landing rights and International Gateway Services in Côte d’Ivoire.

Spokespersons for Globacom and Comium were unavailable for comments on the deal. From inception, Globacom has led the industry in the rollout of consumer-focused innovative products and services, making it possible for the operator to record many firsts in the telecoms industry. Globacom has also contributed to the economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa by providing gainful employment for thousands of people and by its active support and promotion of such sectors as entertainment and sports in all the countries it operates in. It has also provided a solution to the internet bandwidth problem in West Africa through its multi-million dollar international submarine cable, Glo 1. The company currently retains, as brand ambassadors, the largest number of key players in the entertainment and sport sectors than any other company in the sub-region.


[Business Day]