Earlier today, Twitter was alive and buzzing with news that MTN had acquired a controlling share in (almost) everyone’s favourite broadband company, Afrihost. For MTN, the motive seems fairly obvious – all the mobile carriers are desperate to improve their offerings around ADSL and fixed line services, hence Vodacom’s proposed acquisition of fibre networking company Neotel. While Afrihost already uses the MTN backbone for its ADSL customers, it has a lot of expertise and experience that MTN doesn’t.
For Afrihost, however, the benefits seem slightly less obvious. Sure, it’s a long-term MTN partner for its 3G/4G mobile internet products, but it’s already beating most of the market on price there (although there’s been some backtracking on bargains of late).
Afrihost CEO Gian Visser, has sent out a letter to Afrihost customers committing to business as usual and no change in the current levels of service and support they receive, and also that the Afrihost brand isn’t going anywhere. He also attempts to explain the reason behind the effective takeover, but isn’t actually all that revealing.
“[Now] we have a big brother standing by our side, shoulder to shoulder,” he writes, “Supporting us in our dream and goal to become the absolute best company in South Africa.”
The full text of Visset’s mail to customers is below.
It’s a great day to be part of the Afrihost family!
We’re proud, delighted and honoured to let you know that we’ve agreed to join MTN. They are buying 50% +1 of Afrihost’s shares and the current shareholders are retaining the remaining 50%.
For the 14 years that Afrihost has been alive our guiding principle has always been to do what’s best for our clients and our team.
And I sincerely believe that joining MTN is the best thing we can do for you, our clients and our team. We’re going to do amazing things. I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds for all of us!
I’d also like to take this opportunity to say how exceptionally proud we are of our Afrihost team. Their talent, enthusiasm and dedication has made Afrihost the special place it is today. Without them we’d be nothing.
And we’re also sincerely grateful to you (and all of our clients) for choosing to be a part of our family. We know you have a lot of other options. And yet you’ve chosen us. Thank you. Without your loyalty we would not exist. It’s that simple. We promise to keep trying to move mountains for you.
So why did we choose MTN?
Two years ago we took on the mammoth (and scary) task of moving all our ADSL clients to the MTN network. Since then we’ve been working very closely with them on a daily basis.
And launching the industry-shaking Afrihost Mobile on the MTN network eight months ago has also meant we’ve spent many, many more hours in the trenches together.
And I can honestly say that they have been incredible. In every way. Their commitment and transparency has been inspiring. Even when things have gone wrong they’ve always been right by our side, arm in arm, fighting the fire with us.
We would never, ever have considered doing this if we had not experienced MTN’s dedication and service to us, as their client, for the last two years.
And I think the results speak for themselves.
We’ve won the coveted ‘ISP of the Year’ award for the last three years; we’ve won the ADSL MyBroadband survey the last six times they’ve run it; and Afrihost Mobile has, since launching, won the last two MyBroadband Mobile Broadband surveys.
And I have a promise for you…
If you think we’ve done some exciting, innovative things in the past I can confidently say:
You ain’t seen anything yet!
But I’d be lying if I said this was an easy decision. We certainly did not take it lightly.
The most crucial decisions in business and life are never easy. Any entrepreneur who has created a business will tell you about the vast amount of emotion, energy and effort you pour into your company.
Afrihost is like my 4th child.
But just like children, businesses grow up and enter different phases of their life. Our child has grown up and as loving parents we need to help her flourish in the next exciting phase of her life.
So what’s going to change for you?
My team and I have invested the very marrow of our beings for the last 14 years to bring Afrihost this far.
And that’s not going to change.
MTN loves what Afrihost has been doing. And we have all agreed that we’ll keep running Afrihost exactly as we have been.
The way you deal with us stays the same.
Our management team stays the same.
The entire Afrihost team stays the same.
Our passionate focus on service stays the same.
Our brand stays the same.
We keep working out of our own premises.
In essence only one thing changes:
We have a big brother standing by our side, shoulder to shoulder, supporting us in our dream and goal to become the absolute best company in South Africa.
(I literally got goosebumps as I wrote that)
I am excited and I hope you are too!
Thanks again for trusting us with your business. We are sincerely grateful and do not take it for granted. I promise you that we will continue to strive to bring you ‘Pure Internet Joy’ in all we do.
Have a wonderful week!