The Namibian government is seized with discussions of how or whether to sell to local and international private sector consortiums, or acquire through its investment arm Africatel’s 34 percent shareholding in MTC. In terms of an agreement signed in June between Brazil’s Oi, the parent company of Portugal Telecom, and Samba Luxco, an affiliate of Helios, the 34 percent shareholding in MTC was transferred to Samba Luxco.
Desie Heita spoke to the people at Namibia’s communications regulatory body, CRAN, to get clarity on the issue.
Does CRAN’s regulatory scope also extend to overseeing the transfer of shares or ownership in communication companies, as in the case of Portugal Telecom’s shares in MTC through Africatel being transferred to Samba Luxco? Further, is CRAN required to exercise its discretion or render an opinion on the sale of 34 percent should government opt to buy back the shares?
Section 35 of the Communications Act provides that no telecommunications service license may be transferred without the prior consent of CRAN. The transfer of the MTC shares, whether to government or any other entity, must, therefore, be submitted to CRAN for approval. The transaction will also have to be approved by the Namibia Competition Commission. This is because CRAN and NACC enjoy concurrent jurisdiction with regards to competition matters within the ICT industry.
CRAN and NACC have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding, which regulates the relationship in this regard. The decisions of CRAN and NACC are independent of each other.
Is CRAN required to exercise its discretion or render an opinion on who gets to buy the shares should the shareholders in MTC agree to sell a portion of MTC’s shares to a third party?
Once the shareholders have concluded the transaction CRAN will consider the application to ensure it is not prejudicial to the objects of the Communications Act and make a decision on whether the transfer should take place.