Vodacom angling for black investors with PIC sale

Vodacom is aiming to boost its black ownership with the sale of 2.6% of its shares being negotiated by the South African Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The stock, worth around SAR6 billion ($446 million), is part of the PIC’s total 15% holding in Vodacom. In May this year, a deal to sell the PIC’s entire Vodacom holding to a consortium of black investors was shelved for reasons that remain unclear.

The PIC is now reportedly in talks with several black investors over the sale of Vodacom stock. While these negotiations do not require the blessing or involvement of Vodacom, the operator’s spokesman Byron Kennedy stated that “should the PIC elect to sell Vodacom shares, it would be beneficial if such shares were sold to black investors”.

“As a company with roots in SA, we are committed to delivering on the ideals of black economic empowerment and continue to explore a variety of options with the primary object of broad-based inclusivity”, added Kennedy.

South Africa’s government sold its 13.9% stake in Vodacom to the PIC last year, bringing the PIC’s ownership to over 15%.

Vodacom’s relative paucity of black ownership (19%, compared to MTN’s 39%) prevented it from bidding in next year’s scheduled spectrum auction. The government stipulated that participants must have minimum 30% black ownership in order to bid as a way of incentivising black ownership within industries.

However, South African regulator ICASA has delayed the auction process following opposition from the country’s government.

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