MTN Finally Acquires Visafone, Over 2,000 Visafone Workers Fired

, by Laura Ikeji

MTN, Africa’s leading mobile phone
operator, has finally sealed the deal to
acquire Visafone, the only surviving
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
operator in Nigeria, owned by the
banking magnate, Mr. Jim Ovia.
The acquisition of Visafone, the only
surviving CDMA operator in Nigeria,
by MTN, a GSM operator, marks the
final death of CDMA operations in
Africa’s largest economy.
Though, MTN is yet to make official
announcement of the acquisition,
but inside sources confirmed the
development to Daily Trust reporter.
Contrary to the initial report about
the deal that MTN is not taking along
the purchase of the CDMA company
with its liabilities, sources said the
telecoms giant has acquired the
staggering Visafone with all its
properties, including its spectrum
and liabilities.
Our correspondent gathered that
over 2,000 employees were
disengaged with effect from January
5, 2016, and were paid three months’
salaries as severance package.
The only categories of employees
said to be left were those in the
personnel and transmission
One of the affected workers, who
spoke on condition of anonymity,
told our correspondent that the
sacking came as a surprise to many
of them.
“We learnt that the management
would downsize, but we were told
that that would be later in 2016. It is,
however, surprising that they are
sending majority of us away so early
in the year. Though they paid three
months’ severance benefits, but
should it be this way?
“Some of us have put in five to 10
years of our lives in keeping the
business going, but see what we are
getting now. It is well.”
A senior management employee at
Visafone confirmed the sacking, but
was quick to refer media enquiries
to MTN because he was not
authorised to speak on the deal.
When contacted, MTN Nigeria
neither denied nor confirmed the
deal, but said the management was
already working on a statement that
would be made available to
journalists later in the day or today
As of the time of filing this report,
our correspondent had yet to obtain
the statement.
Reliable sources stated that the MTN
would have completed the
acquisition of Visafone, the only
surviving Code Division Multiple
Access operator in the country,
before the end of 2015, but for the
N1.04tn fine slammed on it by the
Nigerian Communications
Our correspondent gathered that the
challenges in the nation’s economy
had also frustrated plans by the MTN
to absorb at least 50 per cent of the
sacked Visafone workers and
because “it wants to reduce its
exposure in Nigeria.”