A long-term partnership between Neotel, the SA communications network operator majority owned by Tata Communications of India, and Nedbank CIB has hit a high point through a transaction which will create the largest pan-African broadband network.

In the deal, Tata and minority shareholders led by Nexus Connexion have agreed for Liquid Telecom, a privately owned pan-African telecoms group, majority owned by Econet Global, to acquire Neotel for R6,55bn. Liquid Telecom has partnered with Royal Bafokeng Holdings committing to take a 30% equity stake in Neotel.

Nedbank CIB’s infrastructure, energy and telecoms team played a significant role in the joint structuring and financing of the acquisition.

The acquisition means that through a single entry point, businesses across Africa will be able to access 40 000kms of cross-border and metro fibre networks. These currently span across 12 countries from South Africa to Kenya, with further expansion planned.

Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom CEO, said in a press statement: “Leveraging the strengths of Liquid Telecom, RBH and Neotel, we will offer an unprecedented fibre network with a unique set of services and international connectivity for telecom operators and enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time, African companies will be able to connect with each other in a cost effective and reliable way, all on a single fibre network. We will also be increasing investments into Neotel to cater for rapidly accelerating mobile and enterprise traffic, enabling us to launch exciting new products and services.”

“Neotel has been a client of Nedbank CIB since its inception 12 years ago,” says Mike Peo, Head: Infrastructure, Energy and Telecoms at Nedbank CIB, “and we are proud that our long relationship has now seen Neotel reach this milestone in being able to connect to the rest of the African continent and to help boost economic growth.”