November 18, 2019 / 5:54 AM / 4 months ago

S.Africa's MTN, Cell C expand roaming agreement

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 (Reuters) - South African mobile operator MTN Group said on Monday it signed an expanded roaming and services agreement with the country’s third-biggest carrier Cell C.

MTN already provides Cell C, owned by Blue Label Telecoms and struggling under the weight of hefty debts, with access to its network in select areas of South Africa. The new agreement expands it to all areas of the country.

“This is aligned to MTN’s strategy to further develop the group’s wholesale business and will allow both MTN and Cell C to harness greater efficiencies... while supporting a more sustainable and competitive industry,” according to MTN’s statement.

The deal with MTN puts a dampener on a takeover bid by South Africa’s fourth-biggest carrier Telkom, 40% owned by the state, made on Friday. Telkom has tried to buy Cell C a number of times before.

Cell C said at the time it was focused on its turnaround plan, including driving efficiencies.

Blue Label said the agreement with MTN would result in substantial cost reductions for the carrier, which is also discussing a recapitalisation with other parties. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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