Vodafone's African ambitions threatened

Having been successful in acquiring a majority holding in Ghana Telecom--despite very public protests, Vodafone's objective to acquire control of the giant South African-based operator Vodacom has been challenged by a fresh bidder.

While details remain sketchy, and possibly questionable, Nigeria's second national operator, Globacom, is reported to have tabled a bid to create a 140 billion (SA Rand) pan-African telecoms firm labelled ‘Vodaglo'.

Telkom South Africa, the controlling holder of Vodacom shares (Vodafone holds a 50 percent stake), would only say it had been approached by "companies interested in one or more components" of its business and was not in any talks beyond those already disclosed--presumably a reference to Vodafone and South Africa's Mvelaphanda Holdings.

Globacom has around 12.5 million subscribers in Nigeria and also operates in Benin and Ghana. Its biggest competitor is South African-based MTN--the biggest provider in Nigeria.

While it would appear unlikely that Globacom has the muscle to successfully mount a bid, it might just attract Vodafone's attention to make a reverse takeover of the upstart Nigerian operator given the company's failure to make an acquisition in Africa's most populous nation.

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