Tethys Mobile, South Africa’s 1st virtual mobile operator, ended its activities in 2021 after 15 years of activity. Covid-19 gave the deathblow to a society already weakened by changes in the South African mobile phone market.
In difficulty for several years, the virtual mobile network operator (MVNO) Tethys Mobile (formerly Virgin Mobile South Africa) is to be bought out by the South African company Huge Group. The latter announced Wednesday, July 6, to have reached agreements with the shareholders and creditors of the company. Once the operation is finalized, MVNO will undergo a new name change, this time becoming Huge Digital Enablement.
In a statement, Huge Group said it is acquiring Tethys for its software and technology platform as well as intellectual property related to that platform. The acquirer intends to leverage them to provide a platform as a service (PaaS) to enterprises wishing to launch MVNO services. Huge Group will also become responsible for resolving disputes related to the aforementioned termination of service, in addition to several other creditor claims.
Launched in 2006 on the Cell C network, Virgin Mobile South Africa is South Africa’s first mobile virtual network operator. In September 2020, the struggling company voluntarily went into bailout in order to restructure and avoid bankruptcy. The difficulties encountered by the company were in particular related to the difficult commercial conditions, the big changes in the South African mobile telephony market, the strong competition, and the Covid-19.
In September 2021, network service was discontinued for subscribers. Virgin Mobile changed its name to Tethys Mobile in November 2021 as part of its restructuring and remarketing strategy. Huge Digital Enablement, Huge Group’s participation is timely as “ consumer brands are aggressively embracing the digital mobile channel as a primary part of their customer experience .”
For John Henning, senior business rescue practitioner at Tethys, the deal is a purely positive development, which he says will see the “ recapitalization ” of the business, as well as new job opportunities and “ new contributions to the South African economy ”.