WBS sale moves ahead
Company backed by former top bankers Michael Jordaan and Paul Harris is moving ahead with a plan to buy the telecommunications operator, which owns iBurst and Broadlink. By Duncan McLeod.
The sale of iBurst and Broadlink parent Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) to a company backed by top former bankers Michael Jordaan and Paul Harris is proceeding, subject to regulatory approvals, after the conclusion of a due diligence on the business.
TechCentral learnt reliably on Friday that the due diligence, carried out by technology company MultiSource, in which Jordaan and the Harris family trust are shareholders, was successful and that the deal will now be referred to communications regulator Icasa and the Competition Commission for approval.
WBS has access to valuable radio frequency spectrum that could be used to build a national wireless broadband network. In particular, it has access to spectrum in the 1,8GHz band that is ideally suited to building next-generation wireless broadband networks using 4G/LTE technology.
TechCentral broke the news in October that MultiSource, a company which was once listed on the JSE, had made an offer to buy the company. At the time, chairman and shareholder Phumlani Moholi confirmed that MultiSource had made an offer to buy the company, but cautioned that it was subject to a financial and technical due diligence. Moholi is a former chief technology officer at MTN and chief IT officer for the 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee.
The value of the proposed acquisition has not been disclosed.
WBS shareholders include Blue Label Telecoms co-CEOs Brett and Mark Levy, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Investec, the Public Investment Corp and former WBS CEO Thami Mtshali, who stepped down last August.
It’s still not clear why Multisource is interested in buying WBS. Founded in 1947, the firm says its “core tenet is designing, building, operating and federating next-wave networks”.
“These networks combine radio, wireless, voice, video and [Internet protocol] technologies into a single, integrated communication network,” it says on its website.
The company, which has offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth, was listed on the JSE in 1988, but subsequently delisted.
InstituteX, an investment company founded by Harris, Moholi and technology entrepreneur Brandon Leigh, acquired a 66% stake in Multisource back in 2010.
Leigh, who serves as Multisource’s CEO, is the former head of Leaf Wireless, the company that distributed HTC products in South Africa until 2012.