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JOHANNESBURG - Struggling Cell C yesterday said it had finally signed an expanded roaming agreement with MTN to boost its network, which resulted in the shares of its biggest shareholder, Blue Label Telecoms, rallying. Blue Label jumped 8.24percent to close at R2.76, while Telkom, which is in a bid to take over Cell C, lost 2.06percent to end the day at R54.73 a share.

Blue Label acquired a 45percent stake in Cell C after paying R5.5billion, and has been battered by Cell C’s lacklustre performance.

Cell C, South Africa’s third-biggest telecoms network after Vodacom and MTN, said it expected the expanded roaming agreement to take off in early 2020, and the transition to take up to three years to complete.

Cell C chief executive Douglas Craigie Stevenson said the agreement was a step towards realising the group’s turnaround strategy,

Stevenson said it would allow Cell C subscribers to roam on MTN’s network nationwide.

“This is a pivotal step in Cell C’s turnaround strategy. One of the key pillars of this turnaround is to implement a revised network strategy that enables Cell C to manage its network capacity requirements in a more cost-efficient and scalable manner,” said Craigie Stevenson.

Cell C, whose debt has ballooned to R9bn, said it would embark on a turnaround strategy aimed at restructuring its balance sheet, implementing a revised network strategy and improving overall liquidity.

Craigie Stevenson said the agreement was transformative for Cell C.

Cell C said the agreement was expected to extend Cell C’s 4G network coverage to 95percent of the population, and customers would now have access to more than 12500 sites, of which 90percent were LTE-enabled.

BUSINESS REPORT