SOUTH AFRICA – Altech Autopage has pushed back its planned shutdown date, which was originally anticipated for the end of this month.

On Friday, the Competition Tribunal approved the sale of the mobile service provider’s subscriber base to MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, subject to conditions pertaining to affected staff.

The approval, though, came after delays hit the regulation process amid a challenge by Altech Autopage’s largest customer, Saicom Holdings, in December.

Saicom’s challenge at the Competition Tribunal hearings in December resulted in the matter being sent back to the Competition Commission.

But after investigating the matter further, the Competition Commission subsequently decided to stick to recommending the deal, opening the way for the Tribunal to approve the deal last week.

Prior to Saicom’s challenge of the deal, Altech Autopage’s former MD, Boyd Chislett, last year said that the mobile service provider planned to migrate “all three customer bases by February 29”, depending on the regulatory process.

But that plan has changed, according to Altech Autopage’s new MD, Peter Wattrus.

“The anticipated closure date of February 29 will not be met due to the delay in approval from the regulator,” said Mr Wattrus.

“Altech Autopage will communicate new timelines in due course. Until such time as the migration takes place, Altech Autopage will continue to service its clients,” he said.

Altech Autopage’s owner, Johannesburg-listed Altron, announced in September last year that the Autopage subscriber base would be sold to MTN, Cell C and Vodacom for R1.46bn.

Altron said that its decision to “dispose of these subscriber bases has been based on, among others, the impact of the ongoing mobile termination rate reductions, in addition to continued industry and consumer deflationary pressures” – Fin24

February 15, 2016;