Our correspondent gathered that the transfer of Visafone’s licence would also involve the transfer of its frequencies to MTN.
Towards this goal, the regulatory agency confirmed through its spokesperson, Mr. Tony Ojobo, that it would hold a public forum in Abuja next Monday on the transfer of the resources belonging to Visafone to MTN.
In an industry realignment, MTN had acquired 100 per cent stake in Visafone, one of the frontrunners in the provision of telecommunication services deploying the Code Division Multiple Access technology, which is more in use in the United States than Europe.
Although the transaction was approved by the NCC as required by the law, the regulatory agency later issued a statement clarifying that the transfer of the shares of Visafone to MTN did not automatically mean the transfer of the licence and frequency to the mobile operator.
Ojobo had stated that a decision had yet to taken on the transfer of the licence from Visafone to MTN Nigeria after the acquisition of the Visafone shareholding by the latter.
He had said, “A decision to transfer the Visafone licence to MTN has not yet been taken. What has been approved in the transaction is 100 per cent shareholding and not the licence.
“The NCC’s final approval to the changes in shareholding of Visafone Communications was taken by virtue of Section 38 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003. Section 38 of the Act states that ‘the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed 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 has been withheld by the commission.”
He added, “Specifically, Visafone Communications Limited, with a Universal Access Service Licence 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 the 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 the 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.”