Regulators approve Safaricom-Airtel deal for Yu

31 March 2014 | Kavit Majithia


Kenyan regulators have granted approval for Safaricom and Bharti Airtel’s Kenyan subsidiary to acquire the country’s third-largest player, Yu.

Safaricom is 40% owned by Vodafone, and is looking to acquire Yu’s infrastructure, including base stations to improve network quality.

Airtel is looking at the acquisition as a way to beef up its subscriber base in the country, which Yu has built up since entering the market in 2008.

Yu is owned by India’s Essar Telecoms, and the consolidation will leave Kenya with three operators – including Telkom Kenya, owned by Orange.

Regulators said late on Friday it would approve the Yu deal, with Safaricom and Airtel paying $5.4 million for the company’s licence. The buyers will also be expected to also meet several market conditions.

Conditions include infrastructure sharing, in addition to co-operation on how they provide customers different services.

Francis Wangusi, the director general for Kenya’s Communications Commission, said that final approval would be given to the two firms if conditions were met.

Safaricom first announced asset purchase talks with Essar in March, before Airtel confirmed its interest in taking a share of Essar’s customer base.