Econet, Seacom keen to buy Neotel after Vodacom walked away from acquiring the telco

Econet Wireless, the parent of Liquid Telecom, and Seacom are in talks to buy Neotel, South Africa’s second biggest fixed-line telephone group, according to a media report.

MyBroadband said that industry sources have revealed that Seacom and Econet Wireless are among those courting the company.

The online publication added that both companies have sent delegations to International Telecoms Week in Chicago, where Neotel’s majority shareholder, Tata Communications, is a headline sponsor.

“Neotel has no comment on this matter at this time,” the company’s board said in a statement. “Neotel prefers not to comment on market speculation.”

Seacom and Econet subsidiary Liquid Telecom were asked to comment on the acquisition talks, but did not provide feedback by the time of publication.

In March, Vodacom officially dropped its R7 billion bid for Neotel following the Pretoria High Court’s ruling that Icasa’s approval of the transfer of Neotel’s operating and spectrum licences to Vodacom be set aside in its entirety.

In May 2014, Vodacom first announced its bid to combine its assets and skills with Neotel to accelerate the rollout of fibre-based services to customers and acquire, inter alia, Neotel’s licences and spectrum

The mobile phone operator, which is majority owned by British mobile giant Vodafone, advised investors that the telco will continue to invest in the development of its own high-speed communications infrastructure to stimulate greater competition in the fixed telecommunications and support both its business services and its consumer business.

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