ZTE’s stake in Congo Chine Telecom up for grabs
Following a denial by MTN last month that it was close to sealing a deal to acquire ZTE’s 51% stake in Congolese cellco Congo Chine Telecom (CCT), a spokesperson for the Kinshasa-based network operator has confirmed that the South African giant is indeed among ‘several suitors’ vying for the stake.
According to CCT’s Kang Linghua negotiations to sell the 51% stake, valued at about USD400 million, may stretch into 2010 because of the financial crisis. Morocco’s Maroc Telecom has also held talks about a possible purchase, Linghua said.
CCT was established in 2000 as a 51/49 joint venture between ZTE and the state-owned local fixed line incumbent OCPT. The joint venture launched GSM-900/1800 services on 31 December 2001 in Katanga in the east of the country. It has since rolled out services to Kinshasa, Bas-Congo, Bandundu and the two provinces of Kasai, giving it coverage of 40 cities. The CCT network has a capacity for 150,000 customers, with a single switch in Kinshasa. The company uses a Belgacom earth station for its international gateway.
At the end of 2008 CCT was the smallest of DRC’s four wireless network operators, with just over 115,00 customers or 1% of the total subscriber base. It competes with Vodacom (with 47% market share at the same date), Zain (38%) and Millicom International Cellular’s Oasis (Tigo, 12%). At the end of December there were 8.5 million wireless subscribers in DRC, an increase of 37.3% year-on-year, translating into a wireless penetration rate of 13.6%.