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Setback for Altech Autopage subscriber sale

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JSE-listed Allied Electronics (Altron) subsidiary, Altech Autopage has taken note of the Competition Tribunal’s referral of the sale of its post-paid GSM subscriber bases back to the Competition Commission for further investigation.
Boyd Chislett, MD of Altech Autopage, says the referral back to the Competition Commission for further investigation relates only to an assessment of a certain portion of the subscriber bases.
“Following a late submission by a participant on the day of the hearing, the Competition Tribunal referred the transaction back to the Competition Commission to ensure that a portion of the customer base be engaged with regard to the proposed transactions,” he says.
“While we were somewhat surprised by the last minute involvement of the participant, Saicom, in a procedure that has been on-going since 23 September, we fully support the process and are committed to co-operating with the Competition Commission.
“At this time, the Competition Tribunal has set a date of 29 January 2016 for the Competition Commission to issue a supplementary report regarding its findings and recommendations after its investigation, which we are confident will result in the approval of the proposed transactions,” Chislett says.
“Furthermore, the Competition Tribunal has proposed a date of 9 February 2016 for a hearing, if required, which we are confident will result in a positive outcome for Altech Autopage.  The Cell C transaction may also be set down for hearing much sooner,” he adds.
“Since Altron first publicly indicated in a Stock Exchange News Service (SENS) announcement on 12 May 2015 that it was at an advanced stage of negotiations for the potential disposal of our post-paid GSM subscriber bases, and again on 23 September 2015 that it had entered into formal agreements with Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, we have thoroughly engaged with all stakeholders, including affected parties and the Regulator, to ensure a transparent and fair process.
“We would hope that the last minute involvement by the participant in a process that has been ongoing for some time is not opportunistic and is not used as a delaying tactic but that it will provide the Competition Commission with the assistance required to finalise the process, which we remain fully committed in supporting,” he says.
In the meantime, Altech Autopage’s customer service and call centre teams will continue to assist customers and channels with enquiries or service related matters. Once the sale of the GSM subscriber bases to the respective mobile network operators is complete, existing customer contracts will be transferred and the existing contractual arrangements with Altech Autopage customers at that time will be maintained on the same terms.