Afrimax says ‘new ownership’ for Vodafone-branded Zambia operation
08 June 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Afrimax, the company that has run a number of mobile operations in Africa under the Vodafone brand, says Vodafone Zambia will have “new ownership”.
The company said in a brief statement that it will announce a new CEO – in succession to Lars Henrik Stork, who is retiring – and “other structural changes including new ownership of Vodafone Zambia”.
Vodafone’s corporate headquarters in the UK shrugged off an enquiry from Capacity by saying: “This is a former partner market that we no longer have an association with.”
But Afrimax appears to have been unwinding a lot of activities across Africa – some using the Vodafone brand – over recent months.
In February Afrimax Uganda lost the right to trade as Vodafone Uganda after going into creditor protection, with debts said in local media to be almost 300 billion Uganda shillings ($78 million).
That followed months after Afrimax’s operation in Cameroun, also branded as Vodafone, closed down after a licensing dispute.
Those two closures left only Zambia in the Afrimax portfolio, also operating until now as Vodafone under the UK-based group’s Partner Markets scheme. Now the Zambian business appears to be about to change.
Gilbert Temba, chair of the Afrimax board, gave no hint about the “structural changes” that face Vodafone/Afrimax Zambia.
But Afrimax has also been selling off its non-Vodafone-branded businesses. In February it sold Busy Internet Ghana to a local company, AI Technologies. It told local media at the time that this was part of its “strategy aimed at reorganising its corporate structure with a view to enabling continued improvement in the delivery of its strategic goals, thereby allowing it to focus on key commercial and financial priorities in its focus markets”.
Three years ago Afrimax said it had raised $120 million from Mitsui, International Finance Corporation, and others to build 4G networks in 12 Africa markets, where it had licences to build TD-LTE networks – the version of 4G that is said to be more suitable for fixed internet access.
Stork was group COO of Afrimax, though his role has changed as the group has closed down a number of operations. He said in February: “The successful sale of our business in Ghana is in line with our restructuring strategy aimed at building a next-generation 4G business in Africa.”
Stork has worked in African telecoms since 2005, when he was VP of operations of Celtel International – the Amsterdam-based African group that was later bought by Zain and subsequently sold to Airtel.
Capacity has asked Stork to comment on Afrimax and Vodafone Zambia.
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