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Loni Prinsloo and Siddharth Philip, Bloomberg

Liquid Telecom, majority owned by Econet Wireless Global, agreed to pay R6.55 billion ($428 million) to Tata Communications for South African internet-service provider Neotel, creating the continent’s largest broadband network and business-to-business phone carrier. Shares of Tata Communications, which is selling the stake, surged.

The buyer is partnering with Royal Bafokeng Holdings, a South African empowerment investment group, which has committed to taking a 30% stake in Neotel, according to a statement from Mumbai-based Tata Communications, which acquired a controlling stake in Neotel in 2009.

The deal gives Econet wireless spectrum and broadband access to South African businesses and homes and gives businesses across the continent access to 40 000 kilometers (25 000 miles) of cross-border fiber networks, according to an e-mailed statement from Liquid Telecom. Econet, founded and run by Strive Masiyiwa, controls Africa-focused Internet provider Liquid Telecom and mobile-phone company Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

“We’ll also be increasing investments into Neotel to cater for rapidly accelerating mobile and enterprise traffic,” Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom chief executive officer, said in the statement.

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