The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has defended its recent comments and court action aimed at preventing or delaying the listing of mobile network provider Vodacom, and the associated transfer of a controlling stake in the company to UK based Vodafone.
This eleventh hour decision was widely regarded as a sign of undue political influence in the country’s communications regulator, as it had previously given the deal the green light.
ICASA said its about-face occurred because it was concerned that the transaction was being done under a controversial atmosphere and felt the move to rescind its earlier decision was in the public interest.
“It should be noted that the Authority’s primary function is to regulate the electronic communications sector in the public interest. It is for this reason that the Authority deemed it fit, in the interest of transparency, that a public process be followed to allow all interested parties to be heard on the transaction before a decision was taken on the matter. At no point did the Authority seek to deny Vodacom the right to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,” ICASA said.
“The Authority accepts the judgment as handed down by the Gauteng North High Court and in light of that will not continue with the public hearings as envisaged and stated in the 15 May 2009 statement.”
Last week the listing of Vodacom on the Johannesburg Securities Exhange (JSE) was in doubt, following the legal proceedings instituted by ICASA and trade union orgnisations, but went ahead on schedule after a ruling favoring Vodacom.