According to ICASA’s Chairman, Stephen Mncube, the sale will be approved subject to compliance with local ownership law and adherence to terms regarding the rollout of broadband infrastructure and services.
“We are pleased to receive approval for the transaction,” Vodacom said in a statement. “We will work with ICASA to finalise the conditions of the approval.”
ICASA however does not have the final say on the deal which still has to gain approval from the Competition Commission which is currently responding to requests from competitors who believe the deal is not in the public interest.
Both MTN and Cell C are opposed to the deal as they feel it would make Vodacom, which is already South Africa’s largest mobile operator, overly dominant in the market.
Vodacom CEO, Shameel Joosub, however does not believe this “The deal will not distort competition. ICASA is here to protect consumers – not to protect competitors from competition,” he said at a recent ICASA hearing.
The acquisition of Neotel would boost Vodacom’s expansion of fibre-optic cable into residential areas and businesses, as well as giving them access to spectrum which would enable the roll-out of their high-speed wireless network. The deal would also enable Vodacom to supply more business services, making it a strong competitor to Telkom.