Cell C is in advanced talks with Rand Merchant Bank and Investec to provide it with about R4-billion rand in fresh capital, according to people familiar with the matter.
South Africa’s fourth largest mobile phone provider, partly owned by Johannesburg-listed Blue Label Telecoms, is nearing the end of a recapitalisation plan to pay down debt, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is still private. Deals have been concluded with former creditors to pave the way for new funding, they said.
Cell C has been struggling under a debt burden of about R10-billion, while its customer growth has come under pressure due to South Africa’s weak economic outlook and the dominance of MTN and Vodacom.
Cell C said its recapitalisation was in progress and at a sensitive stage, with details to follow when it is finalised.
“RMB can confirm that we are in discussions with Cell C and its shareholders regarding financing,” a representative for the lender said. “Client confidentiality precludes us from sharing any details.” Investec declined to comment.
A previous plan for Telkom to combine its mobile operations with that of Cell C fell apart in 2019 and the recapitalisation was approved last year. Cell C previously restructured its finances in 2016, when Blue Label took a 45% stake.
Blue Label’s shares are up 9.3% this year and traded 0.2% lower at the close in Johannesburg.