A stake in Vodacom is back up for sale, following the collapse of a deal in May that was aimed at increasing black ownership of the phone carrier.
The Vodacom stock being sold by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is valued at about R6bn, according to people familiar with the negotiations, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. That equates to about 2.6% of Vodacom.
The PIC is in talks with a number of black investors, according to CEO Dan Matjila, who declined to discuss the details. No favourite had emerged and no deal structure had been decided, Matjila said.
One of the groups included Vodacom chairman Peter Moyo, one of the people familiar with the talks said.
The PIC is Africa’s largest money manager with R1.86-trillion in investments, most of that overseeing South African government workers’ pensions.
Vodacom is 18.7% owned by black investors, compared with 39% for MTN Group. A 30% black-ownership minimum was a condition in a broadband spectrum auction that was delayed in September, though those requirements are in flux.
The Vodacom suitors include NMT Capital, a firm co-founded by Moyo, along with executives Sango Ntsaluba and Thabiso Tlelai. They started a predecessor to NMT Capital in 2002, with backing from the South African unit of London-based insurer and investment manager Old Mutual, where Moyo was an executive. NMT’s only institutional investor is Old Mutual Life Assurance, according to the firm’s website.
Ntsaluba, the investment firm’s chairman, said that to address potential governance issues, NMT would take part in a bigger consortium that would not be led by Moyo.
"This is a deal that we liked as an investment company and we are looking at it," Ntsaluba said. "We are comfortable that all corporate governance issues were dealt with at Vodacom."
While the PIC did not need Vodacom’s approval to sell its shares, the carrier took an active role in increasing its black ownership. Any transaction would take place through a well-governed, transparent process, Vodacom spokesman Byron Kennedy said in response to a question about potential conflicts regarding Moyo’s role.
Moyo did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
In May, the PIC abandoned a planned sale of shares in Vodacom to a group that included a former executive of the carrier, Romeo Kumalo. He is not participating in these talks.
In 2015 the government sold its 14% stake in Vodacom to the PIC for about R25bn. The PIC now owns about 12% of Vodacom, while UK-based carrier Vodafone has about 65%.
The stock declined 4.4% in 2016, valuing the company at R217bn. The stock was raised from neutral to buy by Goldman Sachs on Wednesday.