Visafone Communications Limited has closed a deal to buy 100 per cent stakes in
Bourdex Telecom, a private telecoms company headquartered in Aba, Abia State.
With good footprint in the telecoms market in the eastern part of the country it
plans to consolidate its planned rollout of national telephony service.
Technology Times sources in the know of the transaction confirmed that Visafone,
promoted by MD/CEO of Zenith Bank International Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia, and lead
promoter of Boudex Telecom, who is also Chairman, President, CEO, and founder of
the private telecoms player, Mr. David Ogba Onuoha, finalised the transaction in
December last year. The price could not be confirmed at press time.
The latest buy is viewed by industry analysts as a veritable platform to
fasttrack Visafones entry into the telecoms market under its proposed plan to
provide national service in the unified telecoms market. This will allow players
to offer mobile, fixed, data and a bouquet of other telecoms services with
relatively minimal restrictions after the fiveyear market exclusivity granted
GSM operators expired in February 2006.
Visafone, the cherrypicking new entrant has lately earned more than passing
interest among industry players when in one fell swoop it acquired two PTOs,
Cellcom and Independent Telephone Network (ITN), just after clinching three
carrier licences in the 800MHz spectrum band sold at N400 million by the
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last year.
So far, attention has focused on Ovias entry into the market which has seen the
banker aggressively snapping up relatively smaller market players like Cellcom,
Independet Telephone Network (ITN) and lately Bourdex Telecom to build a
Industry players reckon that Ovias Visafone may be a player to watch in the new
dispensation but are also quick to caution that, extreme innovation and product
segmentation may need to be pushed harder than would have hitherto been needed.
They say the result is as the creme of the market has been captured by the more
aggressive mobile operators whose rapid service uptake has seen them raking up
over 90 per cent of the overall telecoms market subscriber base that peaked at
some 46 million users at the end of third quarter of 2007.
According to information obtained from the companys website, Bourdex claims it
offers, better services, with larger, second to none coverage of the entire
Eastern Nigeria and Niger Delta.
According to the company, it has extended dial tone to towns like Asaba, Nnewi,
Owerri, Abiriba, Item, EnuguUkwu and Onitsha. Others include Orlu, Mbaise,
Ohafia, Nkporo, Mgbidi, Awka, Nkwere, Umuahia, Igbere and Arochukwu. It also
extends to Ihiala, Abam, Isukwuato, Uturu, Uyo, Oko, Okija, Eket, Port Hartcourt,
Bonny, Calabar and Ekwulobia.
Bourdex was among the four new companies to obtain unified access service
licences from the regulator including others like MTN, VGC Communications
Limited, Dan Jay Telecoms Limited, Starcomms, Intercellular, Multi Links and
Prestel, among others.
To cross the regulators bar for unified licence, an operator must have an
existing and operating network infrastructure a minimum subscriber base of
10,000 or justifiable evidence of financial capability for substantial network
rollout. It should also be uptodate on submission of annual audited accounts.
Additionaly, the applicant must be uptodate on payment of company tax, must be
uptodate with equipment type approval and in settlement of interconnection
While telecoms market leader, MTN, was the first GSM network to secure a unified
licence, PTOs have also show interest in the emerging dispensation opened by the
market reform to enable them offer mobile roaming on their fixed wireless
network with majority favouring the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
CellCom, a privatelyowned phone company was in June last year bought by
Visafone through his whollyowned Internet Service Provider (ISP), Cyberspace
Hitherto, Visafone emerged as winner of three carrier licences in the 800MHz
spectrum band sold at N400 million by NCC while beating three other contenders
including an existing player, MultiLinks Telecommunications Limited and two
other new players, GiCell Wireless Limited and TC Africa Telecoms Network
Limited to the spectrum favoured by CDMA operators.
Visafone, which has licence to operate in 26 states and the Federal Capital
Territory (FCT) is being integrated into the newlyacquired CellCom network as
part of plans by the banker to evolve a major telecoms service provider in the
Visafones new licence (800 MHz Assignments, Rx MHz 881.31 882.57 883.83, Tx MHz
836.31 837.57 838.83) allows the company to roll out commercial service in 26
states including Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara and Edo. Others are Delta,
Benue, Kogi and Niger. Others include Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe,
Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto and
Ahead of Ovias stakes in these top telecoms deals, South African mobile
company, the MTN Group, had bought VGC Communications in a $65 million deal that
added the fixed line player to its mobile network.
Another South African company, Telkom SA also acquired 75 per cent stakes in
MultiLinks, the nations pioneer PTO in a $280 million deal that has placed its
existing subscribers and long distance operator (LDO) licence in the control of
the South African fixed line service.
Market consolidation in which bigger players have gobbled up their smaller phone
companies have been set off since unified access service (UAS) was introduced
first quarter of 2006 after the fiveyear market exclusivity granted GSM
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