Bemobile ups ante – US$180.1m deal sees Vodafone in PNG market

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 17th April 2013


NEW mobile phone company Vodafone bemobile will start operations with a US$180.1 million (about K370 million) funding from its major Fijian and PNG shareholders.

In an historic deal signed yesterday between representatives of stakeholders from Fiji and PNG, the national government through its commercial arm, the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), will take a 51% stake in the new company.

The Fiji National Provident Fund, representing the workers of Fiji, will acquire a 40% stake. 

IPBC will inject US$88.2 million (K181 million) and the FNPF US$91.9 million (K189 million). IPBC will obtain funding from the ANZ Bank.

The rest of the shareholding for the new entity is split between the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 0.99 % and Capital Way with 8.01%. 

Capital Way comprises majority shareholder GEMS Holding (3.96%), Steamships (1.88%),  NambawanSupa (0.80%), Pacific Rumana (0.53%), Nasfund (0.42%) and PNGSDP (0.42%).  

Vodafone Fiji Ltd will assume management of bemobile under an agreement which includes the rights for bemobile to use the Vodafone brand in PNG and the Solomon Islands.

Bemobile chairman Syd Yates said it was a “culmination of months of hard work.

The final outcome will see bemobile with the capital and strategic partnerships to enable it to compete and thrive in PNG and the Solomon Islands, he said.

“The new partnership will bring much needed competition and improved services to all mobile phone users in PNG and the Solomon Islands,” he said. 

FNPF chairman Ajith Kodagoda said: “FNPF is delighted to partner the PNG government and other shareholders in this exciting new arrangement for the bemobile company.

“Our aim is to empower the ordinary people, businesses and enterprising individuals by offering communication solutions that will make these economies more efficient and productive ultimately improving their lives.”

Bemobile is expected to invest intensively in the next two years on its network equipment and personnel in both countries. 

With new infrastructure, mobile communications in PNG and the Solomons are expected to significantly improve.

“Eventually the customer will be the winner with better products and services, wider coverage and more competitive offerings,” a FNPF statement said.   

Vodafone is one of the world’s largest mobile phone operators with revenues of K130 billion generated by 440 million subscribers in 70 countries.