Latest: Econet spurns multi-billion offers of Liquid Telecom. . . Considers listing unit on a European exchange

ECONET Group is considering listing Liquid Telecom, which is probably the largest operator of fibre optic and satellite services on the continent, on one of the European exchanges next year in order to unlock more value for the business.

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In a statement released today, Econet Group executive chairman Mr Strive Masiyiwa said advisors have already been appointed for the potential listing.

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He noted that while the group had received unsolicited offers for the business, Econet had resolved to maintain it as an “independent” access provider of internet on the continent.

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“We have received several unsolicited offers for Liquid, but we want it to remain an independent access provider for Internet in Africa. We are going to raise more capital in market and strengthen its market leadership in this vital space. . .

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“We are looking at one of the European exchanges and we will finalise that early in the new year,” said Mr Masiyiwa.

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Liquid Telecom has so far built a fibre optic network that spans 15 African countries from South Africa up to the South Sudan border in East Africa.

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It has now set its sights on West Africa.

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Added Mr Masiyiwa: “Although Liquid has a presence in satellite and payment systems in West Africa, the terrestrial fibre side is missing, and we want to correct that, as our customers must have a seamless service from East to West, North to South. It has always been our core mission. We currently occupy the unique position of being the only company with a network that spans many different countries, as an independent access provider.”

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Currently, Liquid provides open access fibre and satellite infrastructure services to Airtel Africa, MTN, Orange, Tigo, and Vodafone, as well as its own sister company Econet Wireless.

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Last week, the company signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel to use its existing network, as well as build additional infrastructure.

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There are plans to build an additional 20 000 kilometres in the next three years.

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Mr Masiyiwa noted that he favours the listing of subsidiary companies rather than that of his privately held Econet Group.

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Econet Group has three main subsidiaries – Econet Wireless, which has mobile network services in South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Burundi, Nigeria, Nigeria, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and New Zealand; Liquid Telecom; and Cassava Connect, which focuses on mobile financial services.

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All the subsidiaries are not listed.

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“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe was our first business which was started nearly 20 years ago, but it is confined to the Zimbabwe market. It is not the holding company for all our businesses,” explained Mr Masiyiwa.