Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ICASA Cancels Hearings Over Vodafone Stake in Vodacom

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has cancelled the proposed public hearings on the sale of a controlling stake in mobile operator Vodacom to Vodafone and Vodacom's listing on the stock market. The regulator's intention was to call for public comment on the deal, chiefly under pressure from the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has been opposing the Vodacom transaction due to concerns about the loss of jobs.
Icasa originally ruled in mid-April that the transaction did not require regulatory approval. Then in early May, Cosatu filed a court case challenging the regulator's decision. Icasa said it then became "concerned that the transaction was taking place in a contentious atmosphere" and consulted Vodacom to see if its stock listing, planned for 18 May, could be delayed in order to allow Cosatu's complaint to be heard.
Vodacom said it would not delay the listing, and as a result Icasa announced on 15 May that it would hold public hearings to discuss the impact of the transaction. This came the dame day as a court ruling rejecting a request for the Vodacom listing to be suspended pending evaluation of Cosatu's earlier legal complaint.
The regulator has now changed its decision again, saying it will not continue with the public hearings in light of the court ruling. Cosatu still wants a legal review to assess whether the deal needed Icasa's approval, and the court is expected to hear the case in August.

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