MTN Group has agreed to sell its 20% shareholding in BICS — formerly Belgacom International Carrier Services — to Proximus Group in a transaction worth R1.8-billion.

“The sale represents further progress in MTN’s stated asset realisation programme, which aims to reduce debt, simplify its portfolio, reduce risk, improve returns and unlock value,” MTN said in a statement to shareholders.

BICS was classified as a non-current asset held for sale and the Proximus agreement has resulted in a re-measurement of its carrying value — a reduction of R397-million for the year ended 31 December 2020.“

MTN will record a profit on disposal amounting to approximately R1.2-billion during the first half of 2021, mainly due to the release of the foreign currency translation reserve. This results in a net impact of R812-million over the two periods,” MTN said.

BICS, which is owned by Proximus Group, provides wholesale telecommunications services, including voice and data, to operators around the world. MTN acquired its stake in the company in 2009 when it merged its own wholesale carrier services business into BICS.

“The timing of closing is dependent on customary regulatory approvals. Once all the conditions precedent have been fulfilled, MTN will receive proceeds of approximately €100-million (R1.8-billion) in cash, which the group intends to use to pay down US dollar debt and for general corporate purposes,” MTN said.

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