Celtel and KenCell in mega deal: Celtel International, known as Mobitel International until the beginning of this year, has entered into an historic agreement with one of the two major mobile operators in Kenya, KenCell. Adam Jones has the details.

Author:Jones, Adam
Position:Telecommunications
 
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Celtel International, the leading pan-African mobile communications group, is investing $250m in Kenya to acquire a 60% majority stake in KenCell Communications Ltd--a leading mobile operator in Kenya, formerly owned by Vivendi Telecom International. In one of Kenya's largest-ever corporate transactions, Celtel will take over KenCell's shareholder debt and further develop the business.

KenCell, with its 'Yes!' brand, is one of the two major mobile network operators in Kenya. The founding local partner, the Sameer Group of Companies, will continue to hold 40% of the equity in KenCell.

Celtel intends to invest in KenCell in terms of network, product development and expertise. The group brings economies of scale in technology procurement and opportunities for KenCell staff in training and career development. The transaction has gained the full approval of the Communications Commission of Kenya and all other necessary government and regulatory clearances.

According to ITU, Africa is the world's fastest growing market for mobile communications. As a Dutch company with a strong shareholder base in the US and UK, Celtel International has been well positioned for the opportunity presented by the deregulation of the telecommunications sector in Africa. Increasingly, as some European operators have refocused on home markets and as local operators have encountered financial difficulties, there are consolidation opportunities in the market.

Celtel has operations in 13 countries and is the leading operator in nine of these markets. The investment in Celtel's network and more recently the relaunch of the Celtel brand is proving to be a good platform for expansion; Celtel is Africa's fastest growing mobile brand. In addition to Kenya, Celtel operates in Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Malawi, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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Celtel is a major shareholder in mobile network operator Mobitel in Sudan and is a founding shareholder and minority partner in Vodafone Egypt. It manages the major fixed-line operation in Tanzania.

Celtel International performed strongly in the year to December 31 2003, with revenues up 42% to $446.2m, from $314.0m, on a proportionate basis. The group recorded a net profit after tax of $73.9m in 2003.

Shareholders in Celtel include: CDC Capital Partners, a leading risk capital investor in emerging markets, with over $1.5bn invested in some 50...

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