22 June 2018

Nigeria: MTN Set to Take Over Visafone Licence

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has begun the process for the transfer of the licence of Visafone Communications Limited to digital mobile operator, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.

It was gathered that the transfer of Visafone's license would also involve the transfer of its frequencies to MTN.Towards this goal, the regulatory agency confirmed through Tony Ojobo, its spokesperson, that it would hold a public forum in Abuja next Monday on the transfer of the resources belonging to Visafone to MTN.

In industry realignment, MTN had acquired 100 percent stake in Visafone, one of the frontrunners in the provision of telecommunication services deploying the Code Division Multiple Access technology, which is more in use in the United States than Europe.

Although the transaction was approved by the NCC as required by the law, the regulatory agency later issued a statement clarifying that the transfer of the shares of Visafone to MTN did not automatically mean the transfer of the license and frequency to the mobile operator.Ojobo had stated that a decision had yet to taken on the transfer of the license from Visafone to MTN Nigeria after the acquisition of the Visafone shareholding by the latter.He had said, "A decision to transfer the Visafone licence to MTN has not yet been taken.

What has been approved in the transaction is 100 percent shareholding and not the licence."The NCC's final approval to the changes in shareholding of Visafone Communications was taken by virtue of Section 38 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003. Section 38 of the Act states that 'the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the commission has been granted'."This clarification has become necessary in order to allay the fears in some quarters that the frequency has been withheld by the commission."

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