The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has issued a statement to explain its decision to rescind an earlier decision not to interfere with the Vodacom-Vodafone transaction. The regulating authority has now decided not to go ahead with public hearings into the transaction.
Initially, after legal consultation, Icasa concluded that the Telkom/Vodacom transaction didn't require its approval. Last Friday – with the unbundling far advanced and Vodacom due to list on the Monday morning – it changed its mind and decided that the transaction should be delayed while public hearings were held.
According to Icasa's statement, it received notification on 6 May that a review was to be filed in the High Court by Cosatu, challenging its decision. This review was set to be heard in August 2009.
Concerned that the transaction was taking place in a contentious atmosphere and having had sight of Cosatu’s filing, Icasa sought a declaratory order ahead of the Vodacom listing so that a court could reach a decision on the correctness of the initial decision.
Icasa asked Vodacom if it would delay the listing in light of the Cosatu challenge, and Vodacom replied that it would not. At this point, Icasa decided to rescind its initial decision and to request that the matter be brought before a court on an urgent basis.
"It should be noted that the Authority’s primary function is to regulate the electronic communications sector in the public interest. It is for this reason that the Authority deemed it fit, in the interest of transparency, that a public process be followed to allow all interested parties to be heard on the transaction before a decision was taken on the matter," reads the Icasa statement. "At no point did the Authority seek to deny Vodacom the right to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange."
Icasa, having accepted the judgment as handed down by the Gauteng North High Court, will not continue with the public hearings.