Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Vodacom will announce details of its much-anticipated empowerment transaction today, which will see R7,5billion worth of the company sold off to black investors.

Thebe Investment Corporation and Royal Bafokeng will be Vodacom's first major black shareholders.

Until now the company has been owned by state fixed line operator Telkom and British telecommunications giant Vodafone, both with a 50 percent stake.

Denis Smit, managing director of IT research firm BMI-Techknowledge, said: "Locally, Vodacom's business unit (Vodacom Business) will benefit. They'll get BEE credentials to get government and corporate contracts."

Vodacom has not had empowerment status, even through major shareholder Telkom, according to Alistair Yuill, BEExchange director.

"The state doesn't count as BEE. The country is not black, it's a rainbow nation. To my knowledge Telkom doesn't have a certificate," Yuill said.

Rajay Ambekar, IT analyst at Cadiz Asset Management, said a R7,5 billion deal would amount to five to seven percent of Vodacom.

The deal will make Vodafone the dominant shareholder, bringing it closer to gaining a controlling stake in the company as Telkom's share falls to below 50 percent.

Telkom has already voiced its intention to unbundle Vodacom. When Vodafone takes control, resulting in an estimated 60 percent to 65 percent, the outstanding shares will be sold to members of the public.

According to a leaked statement, which until recently has been written off as a hoax, black investors will be able to buy Vodacom shares through a share scheme called Yebo Yethu.

The offer is expected to begin tomorrow and end on September 11.

But analysts yesterday said the public offer sounded genuine.

"I don't think it's a hoax but I've some inaccuracies," Ambekar said. "Firstly there's no information that could be used to value the offer and there's no mention of the funding method, both critical pieces of information.

"There will be an announcement about the Vodafone deal in the next few weeks."