Telecoms: Visafone applied for shares transfer, not licence – NCC
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it only granted approval to Visafone's application to transfer its shares to MTN and not its spectrum licence.
It said what has been approved in the transaction is the 100 per cent shareholding while it is yet to meet and decide on the fate of the spectrum of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator.
A statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, explained that the final approval to the changes in shareholding of Visafone Communications was taken on the strength 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.'
He said this is contrary to the speculation in a section of the media that the NCC had foreclosed the release of the spectrum held by Visafone to MTN.
According to the regulator, 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: '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 per cent and not transfer of licence.
'Specifically, Visafone Communications Limited with a Universal Access Service Licence (UASL) - deploying CDMA technology applied to the NCC for an approval to effect a change in its shareholding structure by transferring 100 per cent of its shares to MTN Nigeria.
'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 per cent 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.
'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.'