Friday deadline for bids to rescue Vodafone Zambia licensee

Next Friday deadline for bids to rescue Vodafone Zambia licensee

20 September 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The 4G data-only company trading as Vodafone Zambia is up for sale and has set a deadline of next Friday for bids.

Mobile Broadband, the local group that uses the brand, said it had issued a call for tenders that will be closed on 27 September.

According to local reports, the call follows the failure of shareholders of the company to inject new capital to revitalize its operations. The company had given itself until July 2019 to attempt a recapitalisation.

However, in July, director Mutale Kapaso told the Lusaka Times that she expected a sale to be completed in August, noting that the company was going through a business rescue process, the Zambian equivalent of administration or of Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Act.

The company started up in 2016, offering wireless internet access using 4G, but without mobile voice and data services.

But it has faced operating and financial difficulties virtually from the start. A year ago Afrimax, the company that has run a number of mobile operations in Africa under the Vodafone brand, and which had a partnership with Mobile Broadband, said Vodafone Zambia would have “new ownership”. Afrimax said in a brief statement that it would announce a new CEO – in succession to Lars Stork, who was retiring – and “other structural changes including new ownership of Vodafone Zambia”. However Afrimax does not yet appear to have announced a successor. 

Earlier this year Vodacom, in which Vodafone is the main shareholder, said it was unloading operations in a number of African countries, including Zambia. 

At Mobile Broadband, trading as Vodafone Zambia, continuing financial difficulties have caused network problems, according to local media. Kapaso told the Lusaka Times in July: “Due to the delay in capital injection, some of our areas with network coverage have consequently experienced network outages. The arrival of new shareholders is expected to inject capital funding that will enable [Mobile Broadband] to expand its operations countrywide and launch the long-awaited voice and SMS services.”

She said there were “continued network outages … in some areas of Lusaka and the Copperbelt”. The company website appears not to be available at the moment, and Zambia is no longer listed on the Vodafone group website. 

The company is under the supervision of a business rescue administrator, with a court-approved business rescue plan, that “encompasses restructuring of the company’s affairs, business, property, debt and other liabilities and equity in a manner that maximizes the company’s continued existence and growth on a financially sound basis, resulting in a better return for all its stakeholders”.