Tag: acquisitions

MTN wants to buy Telkom, insiders say

By Aaron Kirchfeld, Loni Prinsloo and Dinesh Nair for News24

MTN recently made a takeover approach for Telkom in a deal that would’ve combined South Africa’s second and third largest telecommunications operators, according to people familiar with the matter.

Telkom has so far shown no interest in a sale, said the people, who asked to remain private as the talks are confidential. It remains unclear whether the larger rival will continue its pursuit, the people said.

“There is no deal on the table in relation to this matter,” MTN said in a statement after Bloomberg inquiries, declining further comment. A representative for Telkom didn’t immediately comment.

Following a multi-year asset-disposal program, MTN is flush with cash and looking to build on its core business. A combination with Telkom, which has a market value of R29 billion, would help close the gap with crosstown rival Vodacom Group Ltd. MTN’s shares have risen more than 177% this year, valuing it at about R314.7 billion.

Last week, the two parties agreed on a multi-year roaming agreement, where Telkom uses MTN’s network. There are also certain alignment in their company strategy as MTN is busy with a sale-and-leaseback deal of its South African towers, and Telkom is separating its towers business to prepare it for a possible listing of the unit.

With over 40% owned by the state, Telkom controls South Africa’s largest landline network and also sells mobile-phone packages among other services. Telkom’s other large shareholder is state-owned pension fund manager the Public Investment Corporation that holds 14% of the company, according to Bloomberg data. For a deal to ever get the go-ahead, there would have to be government support and a number of competition issues would have to be worked on, said the people.

Johannesburg-based MTN has been paying debt at a rapid rate as it disposes of non-core assets, that also includes the phased sell-down of a stake it holds in recently listed IHS Towers, the sale-and-leaseback of its South African towers and exiting certain Middle Eastern operations.

MTN is Africa’s biggest mobile phone company with about 272 million subscribers, according to its website.

Google looks to buy FitBit

By Ron Amadeo for ARS Technica 

Reuters has a shocker of a report claiming that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is trying to buy Fitbit.

The report says, “There is no certainty that the negotiations between Google and Fitbit will lead to any deal,” and “the exact price that Google has offered for Fitbit could not be learned,” but apparently an offer was made.

Fitbit made a name for itself in wearables by producing a popular, cheap, simple fitness tracker. Since 2009, the company has produced simple clips or bracelets that log your activity and sync it to an app. Xiaomi, Huawei, and others eventually started muscling in on Fitbit’s turf, though, and the company responded by buying Pebble and producing devices that worked more and more like a full-blown smartwatch. Fitbit faces fierce competition in the smartwatch market, too, though, as over the past few years Apple has made fitness a core part of the Apple Watch. It’s no surprise that Fitbit’s revenue has been down for three straight years, as the company is getting squeezed at the low end by China and the high end by Apple.

A Fitbit purchase would be Google’s second recent acquisition in the wearables space. Earlier in the year, it spent $40 million on a mystery smartwatch technology from Fossil Group that has not gone to market yet. Google’s Wear OS has been struggling in the wearables industry; it sits at a distant last place behind the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Tizen-powered Galaxy Watch.
On the smartwatch side of things, it’s not clear how Google’s unpopular smartwatch lineup would benefit from the acquisition of Fitbit’s unpopular smartwatch lineup. Google’s primary wearables issue is sourcing a good SoC that will fit in a smartwatch. Both Apple’s and Samsung’s watches enjoy a great performance and battery life advantage over anything running Wear OS because Apple and Samsung both have their own chip-design divisions that produce modern smartwatch-centric SoCs. Apple and Samsung are investing in smartwatch hardware, and that hardware gets better every year.

Google doesn’t make its own SoCs, so it must rely on an ecosystem of component vendors to produce any kind of hardware. While this works fine for smartphones, the problem is that Qualcomm, the market leader in mobile chips, has never shown a significant amount of interest in the smartwatch market. Qualcomm shoved a Snapdragon 400 into the first Android Wear devices in 2014, and its smartwatch SoCs have basically been stuck in 2014-era technology ever since then. The company has released the “new” Snapdragon Wear 2100 and Snapdragon Wear 3100 over the years, but these two chips and the Snapdragon 400 are all essentially the same thing: four Cortex A7 CPUs built on a 28nm process. Qualcomm smartwatch chips don’t get smaller or faster, year over year, while Samsung’s and Apple’s do. 2014-era chip technology doesn’t cut it in 2019, and there’s nothing Google can do in the software or hardware design to correct this huge of a disadvantage.

Acquiring Fitbit won’t help Google with its hardware problems. The most smartwatchy Fitbits, the Versa line, just use the same off-the-shelf ARM processors Google has access to. Google can’t want much from Fitbit’s smartwatch OS, either, as almost no one would call it better than Wear OS. Wear OS has more apps and better smartwatch integration on iOS and Android, and plenty of advanced fitness tracking built in.

Fitbit is a big brand name in fitness trackers, but at this point it’s hard to imagine that the company brings anything unique to the table at the low end either. Fitbit bands have been cloned to death in China, and if Google is really interested in that market, it could just build a Fitbit clone like everyone else does, without Fitbit. It’s hard to imagine why Google would want to do that, though, since the whole point of Google smartwatches is to get people to use Google services more. A simple fitness tracker wouldn’t help with that goal.

So that leaves … patents? A desperate grab at acquiring any wearable user base at all? Like Google’s earlier Fossil technology acquisition, it’s not clear how any of this will help Google in the wearables market, where it faces core supply chain issues that block it from even attempting to compete in the smartwatch market.

Uber Eats buys local start-up

By Zeenat Vallie for IOL

Uber Eats has today announced that it acquired South African restaurant technology company owned by venture capital firm Knife Capital, orderTalk.

This acquisition is a major step for Uber Eats which will be able to streamline workflows by directly integrating with leading point of sale (POS) systems.

Knife Capital which leads a business model that sells off companies has sold orderTalk in order to secure significant returns.

“An exit is part of the standard business model for any VC. We invest with the intention to secure significant returns for our entrepreneurs and investors and trade sales are the most common way to generate such returns. The time was right and so was the offer by Uber. It therefore made sense to exit,” says Knife Capital.

orderTalk which is the original provider of online ordering systems for restaurants worldwide, utilises proprietary remote ordering software including mobile and social media applications.

The start-up, which was founded by Hilton Keats in 1998 was backed by an online ordering software development partnership with a United States restaurant chain.

In 2004, lawyer Patrick Eldon joined the group and opened its Cape Town office a year later.

orderTalk then received a R9 million investment in 2008 from Knife Capital which is owned by internet billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth to scale the business internationally.

“Raising capital by way of the investment made by HBD provided enormous value, not only in tangible but also intangible terms. The strategic support, mentoring, advice and hands-on assistance received from HBD and Knife Capital
over the years of the investment have been invaluable”, said CEO of orderTalk, Patrick Eldon.

Although Knife Capital said that they would love to disclose the sale of the acquisition, for strategic reasons from Uber’s side: ‘Terms of the deal were not disclosed’.

“Since they are the main player in this acquisition and not to compromise orderTalk’s new path/ partnership, we respect that and choose not to disclose anything that is not in the public domain”, said Knife Capital.

Meanwhile, the Uber Eats business which works with over 100 000 restaurants in 200 cities in 35 countries said that POS integration on a large scale is challenging. This is the reason they acquired orderTalk.

According to Uber Eats head of business development, Liz Meyerdirk, this acquisition will give rise to greater efficiency and essentially less errors that arise with manual labour and to streamline workflow.

“With orderTalk’s engineering talent and the group of people that we’re acquiring, we’ll be able to supercharge our own point of sale integration strategy,” said Meyerdirk.

Remgro is in advanced talks to buy fibre provider Vumatel as South Africa’s richest man seeks to consolidate the country’s expanding broadband infrastructure industry, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal by billionaire Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle would give an equity value of closely-held Vumatel of about 1.1 billion rand ($93 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.

Rupert would then combine Vumatel with rival Dark Fibre Africa, in which Remgro owns a majority stake, the people said. The deal could still fall through, and if so Vumatel would consider selling shares on Johannesburg’s stock exchange, they said.

A spokesman for Dark Fibre declined to comment. A spokesman for Remgro said she didn’t have an immediate comment and Vumatel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The deal would allow Dark Fibre, which has a network of about 10,000 km (6,214 miles), to expand into South Africa’s fast-growing fiber-to-home industry, which Vumatel helped to pioneer after entering the market in 2015. Households in cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are increasingly seeking higher speeds and more capacity to handle rising consumption of data for services including streaming.

Dark Fibre trails Econet Wireless Global Ltd. unit Liquid Telecom in terms of network size. The company has raised 1.25 billion rand in debt funding and extended a revolving credit facility to 1.1 billion rand to fund expansion, according to its website.

Talks between Dark Fibre and Vumatel started in October and could be concluded within the next two months, said the people. Banks working on the deal include Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Investec Ltd., one of them said. Neither lender could immediately be reached for comment.

Rupert has a net worth of $8 billion, according to the the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Johannesburg-based Remgro also owns stakes in international private hospital operator Mediclinic International Plc and South African spirits maker Distell Group Ltd.


 Metrofile acquires Tidy Files 

We are proud to announce that Tidy Files is officially a Metrofile Holdings Limited Company, following the recent relevant regulatory approvals.

This is an exciting new chapter for Tidy Files, which has a 39-year legacy as a market leading provider of document and records management solutions.

We have grown and established the brand as a national leader into an extensive national business with branches throughout the country.

Pfungwa Serima, Group CEO, Metrofile Holdings Limited, says that the acquisition is aligned with the company’s strategic growth objective and that through it Metrofile can complement and expand its client service offering across Africa and the Middle East, providing an even more complete range of filing and archiving solutions across all industries. The timing, from a Tidy Files perspective, was perfect.

We have grown the business into a recognised leader with the support and backing of private equity firm Spirit Capital for the last 10 years.

The time to expand and launch a new growth trajectory was imminent, so the Metrofile acquisition was positively received and is an exciting new period for us.

While we enjoy our new home and parent-company, we will maintain our market positioning and will continue to operate as an independent company within the Metrofile Group.

To ensure that our valued clients are comfortable with this news we wanted to confirm a few important facts:

• It will be business as usual and the acquisition does not affect client accounts in any way
• We will continue to operate under the Tidy Files brand and continue building on our well-established heritage
• Our existing management structures will remain in place, with the exact same products, services and solutions being at your disposal.

We are excited to move forward and build an even more formidable local business.

Henkel has entered into exclusive negotiations with GCP Applied Technologies to acquire their global Darex Packaging Technologies business for $1,05-billion.

“The intended transaction is in line with our strategy to strengthen our portfolio through targeted acquisitions and would reinforce the position of our Adhesive Technologies business as a global market and technology leader”
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Henkel has submitted a binding offer for the Darex Packaging Technologies business. Darex is based in Cambridge, MA, USA and supplies high-performance sealants and coatings for the metal packaging industry around the world. It serves various global customers producing beverage, food or aerosol cans, ensuring with its solutions the highest quality standards for many best-known brands. In fiscal 2016, Darex Packaging Technologies generated sales of around $300-million. Darex has about 700 employees and 20 sites in 19 countries.

“The intended transaction is in line with our strategy to strengthen our portfolio through targeted acquisitions and would reinforce the position of our Adhesive Technologies business as a global market and technology leader,” said Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen.

“We are excited about the opportunity to add the high-performance Darex business to our existing Adhesives Technologies portfolio. We are glad that we are now entering into exclusive negotiations about a possible acquisition. Darex’s experience in developing innovative, high-performance sealants and coatings will underpin our commitment to provide our global customers with best-in-class solutions. This business is the perfect fit for our existing portfolio serving the metal packing industry and would therefore strengthen our position in this highly attractive and non-cyclical business. We would be happy to welcome to Henkel such a successful and experienced strong team with long-standing business expertise,” says Jan-Dirk Auris, executive VP Adhesive Technologies at Henkel.

In connection with this binding offer, GCP will begin a consultation process with the relevant Works Councils and Labor Unions. Upon completion of that process, it is intended to enter into a definitive purchase and sale agreement in respect of the proposed sale. The proposed transaction will also be subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

In fiscal 2016, Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business unit generated sales of around $9,4-billion, making Henkel the leading solution provider for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.

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