March 14, 2017 / 9:42 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Kenya telecoms regulator says has no intention to split company

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(Adds details, background)

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, March 14 (Reuters) - Kenya's telecoms regulator said on Tuesday it had no plans to break up any company in the sector, weeks after a leaked draft report on competition it commissioned recommended that Safaricom, the country's biggest operator, be split.

"It is not the authority's intention to punish success," Communications Authority of Kenya chairman Ben Gituku told a news conference.

Gituku said they were discussing the report with telecoms operators and asked the public to ignore the recent reports in local newspapers that the draft findings recommended that Safaricom's mobile money payment M-Pesa be separated from its Safaricom's telecoms business.

He said the report on competition was being finalised and it would be released in May.

The authority's comments cement the government's position, given earlier this month, when the information minister said he was opposed to a move by a legislator to amend the law to break up Safaricom.

Safaricom is also Kenya's biggest firm by market capitalisation and dwarfs the two other operators in the mobile market: the local subsidiary of India's Bharti Airtel and Orange, which the French telecoms company agreed last year to sell to London-based Helios Partners.

The smaller operators have long argued that Safaricom enjoys a dominant position because it accounts for 90 percent of revenues in areas such as voice calls and text messages.

Safaricom rejects the accusations of dominance. (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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