MTN Buys Controlling Stake in Afrihost

Mobile operator MTN is acquiring a controlling 50% stake in Internet service provider Afrihost for an undisclosed sum. In an e-mail to Afrihost clients on Monday, the service provider’s CEO, Gian Visser, says MTN is buying 50% plus one Afrihost share. The existing shareholders, including management, will retain the remaining 50% of the company. In the past couple of years, Afrihost has worked closely with MTN, with the telecommunications operator providing the company with bandwidth and infrastructure for its ADSL clients. More recently, it has launched highly competitive mobile data deals on the back of MTN’s network. “I sincerely believe that joining MTN is the best thing we can do for you, our clients and the rest of our team,” Visser says in the letter.

Visser says nothing will change for Afrihost clients and that the company’s name will remain unchanged. “We have all agreed that we’ll keep running Afrihost exactly as we have been,” he says. There will also be no changes to Afrihost’s management team and the company will remain in its own offices. The deal is not material for MTN, and so it is not required to disclose the deal to its shareholders by way of a statement on the JSE’s Sens news service. Afrihost was formed in 2000 as a Web hosting and IT services company by Visser, Brendan Armstrong and Peter Meintjies. The trio was later joined by Greg Payne, who is Internet Solutions’ former chief operating officer.

In 2009, Afrihost entered the broadband ADSL space and, through aggressive pricing plans, caused a stir in the market. Afrihost and MTN first joined forces in 2012. Before that, Afrihost had secured bandwidth through Internet Solutions. Neither MTN nor Afrihost were immediately available to comment on the deal. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media.

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