The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has approved the decision of three international firms to convert Internet and pay TV provider Wananchi Group loans into shares.
In a statement, the competition watchdog said the companies, including Triple HoldCo Limited (THL), Liberty Global Europe 2 Limited (Liberty) and Altice Africa S.A.R.L (Altice), would acquire shares.
The value of the transaction was not immediately clear; however, in 2011, Liberty was part of an international consortium of investors that helped the firm raise US$ 41 million for regional expansion.
The regulator said, “The transaction involves the three acquirers converting their debt in the target into equity, with certain controlling rights. The transaction, therefore, met the threshold for mandatory notification and full merger analysis as provided in the Competition (General) Rules, 2019.”
The Internet provider has an intricate ownership structure that has been a subject of boardroom wars and court cases. The biggest shareholder is ATMTF1 with 69 per cent.
Other shareholders include ECP with a 4.56 per cent stake, Vollin (3.65 per cent) and ATMT Fund II (2.72 per cent). LGI Ventures and ATMT Fund III own 1.82 per cent and 0.13 per cent.
Wananchi Group started as Wananchi Online in 2000, with ICT secretary Joe Mucheru and former CEO Njeri Rionge among its founders.
In 2008, the business transformed into Wananchi Group after new investors joined the company following several fundraising rounds through a mix of debt and equity from State-owned Export Development Canada, Emerging Capital Partners, Altice, Nasdaq-listed cable firm Liberty Global Inc, and New York-based Prudence Holdings, among others.
Wananchi operates in several African countries — including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia, Malawi, and Mauritius.