NCC approves only Visafone share transfer to MTN, not licence

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(Last Updated On: 2016-10-12)

Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has cleared air on the speculation that it approved the transfer of Visafone spectrum to MTN Nigeria.

The telecoms sector regulatory agency in a statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo said the commission only gave approval for Visafone share transfer to MTN not Licence.

NCC disclosed that decision to transfer Visafone licence to MTN has not yet been taken but, the transaction that saw MTN’s acquisition of Visafone covered 100% shareholding not licence.

NCC final approval to the changes in shareholding of Visafone Communications was taken by virtue of section 38 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

Section 38 of the Act states that “the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licencee and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licenced or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the Commission has been granted”.

This clarification has become necessary in order to allay the fears in some quarters that the frequency had been withheld by the Commission.

Ojobo, said clearly “the Commission is yet to meet to take a decision on the application by Visafone to transfer its licence to MTN. The NCC has only approved the shareholding structure by 100% and not transfer of licence”.

Specifically, Visafone Communications Limited with a Universal Access Service Licence (UASL) – deploying Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology applied to the NCC for an approval to effect a change in its shareholding structure by transferring 100% of its shares to MTN Nigeria.

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Having met all the preliminary requirements for grant of approval for change in shareholding structure, the NCC in line with its established procedure granted an Approval-In-Principle to Visafone Communications Limited, subject to fulfilment of conditions to transfer 100% of its shares to MTN Nigeria.

Having fulfilled the conditions stipulated in the “Approval-In-Principle”, the NCC, in line with its procedure granted a “Final-Approval” to Visafone for the change in its shareholding structure.

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Thereafter, Visafone applied for approval to transfer its licence to MTN. The NCC has written to Visafone, clearly stating that a decision was yet to be taken on the transfer of Visafone licence to MTN.

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