October 5, 2016 / 6:41 AM / 10 months ago

REFILE-South Africa's Blue Label Telecoms pays $400 million for Cell C stake

(Refiles to add dropped word "million" in the headline)

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - South African distributor of prepaid airtime Blue Label Telecoms will pay 5.5 billion rand ($400 million) for a 45 percent stake in debt-laden mobile phone group Cell C Ltd, it said on Wednesday.

The deal is part of Cell C's efforts to pay down debts which last year forced it into a restructuring with bondholders involving a three-year maturity extension to July 2018.

Following Blue Label's deal, Cell C will also issue new shares to staff, senior management and existing shareholders to help to reduce it borrowings to a maximum of 8 billion rand, Blue Label said.

Founded in 2001 by Saudi Arabia's Oger Telecom, Cell C has struggled to compete against established players Vodacom and MTN Group. ($1 = 13.7580 rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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