MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa said if Cell C failed, it would not only affect the company's thousands of employees but others who are dependent on it. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Mobile operator MTN has indicated that it would likely help troubled Cell C where it made economic sense. 

MTN SA chief executive Godfrey Motsa said if Cell C failed, it would not only affect the company's thousands of employees but others who are dependent on it. 

“It’s not MTN’s responsibility to save Cell C, but surely we can do something from our side,” he said. “But it has to be in the right economics,” Motsa said.

“If the company were to fail, it would impact the sector more broadly, including suppliers and tax collection. “The impact on the country would be huge. If Cell C can be saved it is good for Cell C, good for the sector and good for the country. We cannot return the country to growth by folding competitors.”

Cell C, South Africa's third-biggest mobile operator is grappling with an R9billion debt and has lost market share to its peers MTN and Vodacom. Cell C’s 2011 tower agreements and other risk-based pricing on certain contracts have created significant financial drag on the business.

Cell C confirmed yesterday that it was in discussions with MTN regarding an extended roaming agreement which was mutually beneficial to both parties.

“We will not comment further as discussions are still in progress,” Cell C said. MTN also confirmed the talks and said an extended roaming agreement was at an advanced stage.

“We are currently in discussions with Cell C regarding a revised agreement and how MTN can continue to work with Cell C. We believe there are still opportunities to pursue - to the benefit of both businesses.

"We will not comment further as these discussions are still in progress,” said an MTN SA spokesperson.

MTN shares declined 1.25 percent on the JSE on Thursday to close at R92.99.

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