On the Cover
Virgin Mobile dissolves into new telco
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 00:00
Written by Staff writer
The core of SA’s first and only mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is set to change as its majority shareholder has signed a partnership deal that will ultimately put the reins in the hands of a Dubai-based MVNO.
International investment company, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, announced a strategic partnership agreement for the Middle East and Africa (which includes Virgin Mobile SA) with Middle East MVNO, the Friendi Group.
The move will see Virgin Mobile SA’s current CEO, Steve Bailey, step down, to be replaced by a “highly-experienced candidate”, who is yet to be named.
Subject to local authority clearances, says Virgin, the two groups will merge their regional telecom operations to create a combined entity that will be called Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA). VMMEA will develop and operate mobile telecommunications businesses across the region. “The combined group will manage the current operations of Virgin Mobile in SA and Friendi Group in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, creating a sizeable regional mobile telecom player with more than one million customers. Virgin and Friendi Group have complementary brands across their respective demographic targets and both are focusing on providing great customer service and value for money.”
Virgin Group says the newly-formed telecom company has ambitious plans to further strengthen its regional leadership position by launching in more markets across the Middle East and Africa. The new Dubai-based telco, it says, is targeting a regional customer base of over five million subscribers by 2015, across both the Virgin Mobile and Friendi mobile brands.
Branson, founder and president of Virgin, says VMMEA will “create the undisputed regional leader in the MVNO space”. He says Virgin and Friendi Group bring complementary skills and assets to the new venture. “I have great confidence in its future success.”
As Virgin Mobile SA’s Bailey steps down, former CFO of DigiCel Panama, Anton Landman, will step up as acting CEO until a new one is appointed.
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