NCC denies granting Visafone licence to MTN

•Says it only granted share transfer

A decision to transfer Visafone licence to MTN has not yet been taken effect. What has been approved in the transaction is 100 per cent shareholding not licence.

This was the position of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as contained in statement issued and signed by Mr Tony Ojobo, the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs in Abuja on Tuesday.

According to the NCC, the final approval to the changes in shareholding of Visafone Communications was taken by virtue of section 38 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003. Section 38 of the Act states that “the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licencee and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licenced or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the Commission has been granted”.

It stated that this was contrary to the speculation in a section of the media that the NCC, the regulatory agency for telecommunication, had foreclosed the release of the spectrum held by Visafone to MTN.

It stated further that the clarification has become necessary in order to allay the fears in some quarters that the frequency had been withheld by the Commission.

The statement stated further that “the Commission is yet to meet to take a decision on the application by Visafone to transfer its licence to MTN.  The NCC has only approved the shareholding structure by 100 per cent and not transfer of licence”.

Specifically, according to the statement, Visafone Communications Limited with a Universal Access Service Licence (UASL) – deploying Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology applied to the NCC for an approval to effect a change in its shareholding structure by transferring 100 per cent of its shares to MTN Nigeria.

“Having met all the preliminary requirements for grant of approval for change in shareholding structure, the NCC in line with its established procedure granted an Approval-In-Principle to Visafone Communications Limited, subject to fulfilment of conditions to transfer 100 per cent of its shares to MTN Nigeria.