On-demand video streaming startup iflix, an emerging markets rival to Netflix, has effectively pulled out of Africa after selling its business in the region to telco group Econet Global Limited.
According to an official statement, the deal sees telecoms firm Econet buying the Malaysia-based iflix’ remaining stake in iflix Africa, to add to its existing significant stake in the company.
The deal size or details were not disclosed. Post the deal, iflix’s footprint comes down to 23 countries, largely across Southeast Asia and West Asia.
The initial investment by Econet came in early in 2018, eight months after iflix first the launch of its service in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in June 2017.
The investment saw the two companies join forces to expand iflix Africa, later rebranded as Kwesé iflix, into East and Southern Africa.
Kwesé iflix offers viewers across the region the most extensive combination of live sport, entertainment and highly acclaimed local African and international series and movies, including first-to-market exclusive programming.
For Econet, which is an international group with pan-African origins, the completion of this transaction follows its recently announced decision to de-emphasise its Kwesé TV direct-to-home service in order to refocus the business towards a digital future.
“The conclusion of our acquisition of iflix Africa, is a natural progression for our revised business strategy as a Group, particularly the Kwesé business which offers premium broadcasting services. With the immense growth and positive uptake of VOD and OTT services across the continent, we believe connected services – particularly mobile – is the future of broadcasting in Africa,” said Econet CEO Hardy Pemhiwa.
According to iflix co-founder and CEO Mark Britt, the sale of its African business signals the firm’s commitment to focus on its core markets in Asia.
“The acquisition by the Econet Group, our regional partner and Africa’s leading broadcast network, is a significant milestone for the African business, and further reinforces iflix’s commitment to our core markets in Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines which continue to grow from strength to strength,” he said.
In a move to enhance its service in Southeast Asia, iflix last month announced strategic partnerships with Globe Telecom from the Philippines and PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) from Indonesia to expand its offerings on content distribution.
iflix and Globe Telecom will co-produce a slate of all new original content aimed at Filipino audience, while the partnership with Telkomsel will allow subscribers will get access to iflix content at a specific rate.
The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered company last raised $133 million in September 2017 in a round led by US-based Hearst Communications and Singapore-based EDBI as well as clients of DBS Private Bank.
In an interview with DEALSTREETASIA earlier this year, CEO Britt said the company will be looking to raise at least two more financing rounds before it considers going public.