With Vodacom due to list as a separate company on the JSE on Monday (18 May), Icasa has thrown an 11th-hour spanner into the works, withdrawing a decision allowing Vodafone to buy 15% of Telkom's stake in the cellular service provider – making it a 65% majority shareholder – and effectively putting the whole process on hold.
Earlier, Icasa decided that the transaction wouldn't require its approval, based on which decision plans for unbundling from Telkom and the seperate listing went ahead.
A few days ago, however, Cosata (Congress of South African Trade Unions) stepped into the picture, filing a court action asking that Icasa's decision be overruled.
At a meeting held this morning, Icasa concluded that a decision from the court would only take place long after the transaction had been concluded, but that it is preferable that a transaction of this nature take place in an environment conducive to regulatory certainty. And so it decided to rescind its April decision.
"In the interest of transparency, the authority finds it appropriate that a public process be followed to allow all interested parties to be heard," reads a statement from Icasa.
These public hearings will probably take place in mid-June, and a notice inviting stakeholders to make written comments can be expected soon.
Vodacom shareholders stood to get R19.00 per share following the sale of 15% of Vodacom to UK-based Vodafone.
Telkom was to receive R22,5-billion for its sale of 15% of the cellular operator, 50% of which would be distributed to shareholders as a special dividend.
The remaining share held by Telkom – 35% of the total issued shares in Vodacom – were to be distributed pro-rata to Telkom shareholders in an unbundling exercise.
Late this afternoon, Dot Field, chief communications officer at Vodacom issued a terse statement: “Whilst Vodacom is seeking legal council, until a decision to the contrary is made, the listing is on track to take place on Monday.”