JSE-listed technology group Altron is in advanced-stage discussions to sell the mobile subscribers of Altech Autopage. It’s a move that comes just a year after Nashua Mobile, owned by Reunert, concluded a similar transaction.
Altron has been rumoured for some time to be in discussions with the mobile operators with a view to selling the Autopage GSM subscriber base.
The operators are putting increasing pressure on channel distributors as cuts to mobile call termination rates and to retail rates have eaten into margins.
Autopage is the last large independent cellular service provider in South Africa. It has about a million customers on its books.
“Altron’s decision to dispose of these subscriber bases has been based on, among others, the impacts of the ongoing mobile termination rate reductions, as well as continued industry and consumer deflationary pressures,” the group said in a statement to shareholders on Tuesday.
“Accordingly this business has been classified as a discontinued operation for purposes of the company’s 2015 annual financial statements.”
Last April, Reunert announced it had agreed to sell Nashua Mobile’s MTN and Vodacomsubscriber bases to the two mobile operators for R2,3bn excluding VAT. Nashua Mobile has since been closed down.
Altron’s announcement comes just a day before it is due to report its 2015 annual results, which are expected to be poor.
Last month, the group cautioned that reduced demand for set-top boxes, poor sales of subsidiary Altech’s much-hyped Node product, the loss of a television assembly business, tough trading conditions at Altech Autopage and poor performance at Altech, among other problems, would result in a weak performance for the full year.
It warned that normalised heading earnings per share could be as much as 55% lower than a year ago, while basic earnings per share — which incorporate various significant impairments – are expected to be as much as 110% lower.
The only bright spot has been its IT business, but this has not been enough to offset the problems elsewhere in the Altron stable. – © 2015 NewsCentral Media