The pending takeover of Cellcom Telecommunications Company, one of Liberia’s leading GSM operators by French Telecom giant Orange has been put under scrutiny by the country’s telecommunications regulatory body.
The Liberian Telecommunications Authority or LTA is requesting more information on Orange and its intended takeover. The move by the LTA comes as Orange is said to be putting final ink on the deal to acquire Cellcom, an Israeli own GSM Company through its subsidiary Orange Cote d’Ivoire.
LTA’s Communications Director Jarsea Burphy in an exclusive interview with this paper on Tuesday about the pending acquisition of Cellcom by Orange said the regulator welcomes the pending takeover but needs more information on the agreement.
Denying that LTA has issued an official statement on the agreement, Ms. Burphy said the regulator received a letter from Cellcom informing it about the acquisition on January 9, 2016 and expected the deal to be finalized by February 1, 2016.
But Ms. Burphy said such acquisition request will have to go through 30-days period upon receipt of the Letter and that from January 9-to February 1 is less than 30 days, adding that the deal will have to wait till the 30-days period elapse.
Earlier, this paper learned independently that LTA and officials of both companies were meeting with the regulatory body to for more details on the acquisition. This is to also ensure that there has been not breaches of the authorities regulations during the acquisition process.
Orange, a global leader in the telecommunication industry is currently present in 35 countries serving 226 million residential customers and for business in 220 countries and territories.. The deal is said to be a part of Orange’s international development strategy, seeking to accelerate growth by entering new emerging markets with high potential. A reinforced presence in Africa is a strategic priority for the group.
Orange interest in the Liberian telecommunications industry will be a boost to the nation’s growing mobile communications industry. As part of the takeover arrangement, Cellcom’s founders and employees will remain involved in the business to ensure a smooth integration, support performance and continue long-standing relations with the government.
Liberia, with a population of 4.3 million people, has a 66 percent mobile penetration rate. Orange in a release say Cellcom holds a national mobile licence and has a significant market share by subscribers. It sees the company’s growth prospects as excellent. The transaction, whose financial terms were not disclosed, is subject to customary closing conditions.