Yu interest wasn’t there prior to harsh conditions, says Safaricom

Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore has confirmed that the operator is no longer interested in the proposed deal with Airtel to acquire the assets of Kenyan rival Yu.

Collymore added that the harsh criteria imposed by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) had no bearing on the decision, as Safaricom had already lost interest in the deal before the regulatory revelations.

He noted that now “the decision we must make is whether to come back to [the deal] or not”, saying that the firm would reveal its decision in three weeks.

The biggest issue for Safaricom is the stipulation that it would have to allow its rivals access to the agency network supporting its widespread M-Pesa mobile money service. Under the terms of the Yu deal, Safaricom would have been obliged to let Airtel, Telkom Kenya Orange and MVNOs use it.

Earlier this year, Safaricom and rival Airtel launched a joint bid to acquire, respectively, the assets and subscribers of number three operator Yu, owned by Essar. Airtel would have retained the firm’s GSM licence but Safaricom would have taken over all of its passive infrastructure.

While Safaricom claims to have lost interest beforehand, the bid was also subjected to strict regulatory conditions. Safaricom and Airtel would have been required to pay off Essar’s outstanding licence fees – in the region of $5.4 million each.