JOHANNESBURG, July 25 South African mobile operator Cell C aims to free up cash to invest in network expansion, its chief financial officer said on Friday, a day after the company said it was looking to restructure 160 million euros ($215 million)of debt.
Cell C, third-ranked in the country, is fighting to take market share from mobile giants Vodacom Group and MTN Group and has embarked on an aggressive pricing strategy to win new customers.
On Thursday it asked bondholders for permission to push back, by three years, repayment of 77.4 million euros of senior notes due in July 2015. Cell C has already reached a similar agreement with its top shareholder, Saudi Oger Ltd, over 82.7 million euros worth of bonds.
"I have better things to do with my capital than use it to repay debt at the moment, when I really need all the resources available to me to continue to invest in network infrastructure," Chief Financial Officer Robert Pasley told Reuters.
He added that the company, which is looking to spend 2.3 billion rand ($219.2 million) on its network this year and a similar amount next year, was not facing a liquidity crunch.
"If there was a real liquidity squeeze then we would be cutting back on capex. At the moment, at least for the foreseeable future that's not what we've got in the plan."
Pasley said he was "pretty confident" that nearly 100 percent of the bondholders would agree to extend the debt repayment date.
($1 = 0.7444 Euros; $1 = 10.4945 South African Rand) (Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Pravin Char)