South Africa’s MTN Group is in the final stages of buying a stake in Nigeria’s Visafone Communications at unspecified amount, two unnamed source told Reuters on Friday.
The Africa’s largest telecoms operator is seeking to get a grip in the West African market and an investment on the Nigerian entity that was set up almost eight years ago after tycoon Jim Ovia, who also founded Zenith Bank, acquired three operators.
Ovia, 61, is one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men with a fortune estimated at $850 million according to Forbes’ 2014 ranking of Africa’s 50 Richest. He is currently building a 5-star hotel in Lagos and a $1.5 billion petrochemical plant in the South-South region.
Sources close to the deal sought anonymity because the deal is yet to be announced. They also didn’t give the value of the transaction.
MTN Group has nearly 60-million users in Nigeria, providing more than a third of firms revenue, with slightly over a quarter of its entire 223 million subscribers in Africa across 22 countries.
Visafone currently has a subscriber base of more than 2.2 million up from just 30,000 after the acquisitions in 2007, data from the telecom’s regulator showed.
Funmi-layo Onajide, MTN Group’s spokesperson, said they “will send a holding statement at the appropriate time” once the deal is sealed.