Econet Wireless Kenya, which trades under the Yu brandname, has refuted local media reports that South Africa's MTN has offered US$450 for a stake in the company. The reports are “rumors,” Chief Executive Officer Srinivasa Iyengar told reporters in Nairobi. The story emerged in Kenya's Standard newspaper.
The claimed price being offered by MTN coincidentally matches the US$450 million in debt the network recently raised to fund its rollout plan.
Last year, Econet Wireless International (EWI) sold a 49% stake in the company to India's Essar Communications Holdings (ECHL). The companies said that the move would significantly benefit Econet Wireless Kenya (EWK), which is 70% owned by EWI, from a rollout as well as product offering perspective.
“Econet is not for sale,” Iyengar added. “Essar is a partner for life.” Econet Kenya will change its name to Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd., he concluded.
The network operator was recently reported to have signed up 200,000 subscribers since it launched last November - and is aiming for one million customers by the middle of the year.
Figures from the Mobile World database subscriber database reports that Safaricom is the market leader with a market share of 82.3% with Celtel coming in at 17.6%. Telkom Kenya (Orange) has just started a "mobile" type service. The country itself has a population penetration level of 36%.
The regulator has recently announced that it will make a second attempt at launching mobile number portability - which traditionally benefits new entrants into markets.