Top smartphone supplier in Africa plans backdoor listing in China

Shenzhen-based Transsion Holdings has nearly 30 per cent of the African smartphone market, where it sells devices under the Tecno, itel and Infinix brands

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 5:20pm

A little-known Chinese company that dominates the African smartphone market is preparing for a backdoor listing that will make it one of the biggest publicly traded mobile phone makers in the world’s second-largest economy.

Shenzhen Transsion Holdings Co, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the African smartphone market, plans to transfer a controlling stake to Shenzhen-listed Shimge Pump Industry Group Co via an asset and share-swap deal, according to a stock exchange filing on Thursday.

The deal remains in negotiations but the closely held company – which sells smartphones under the Tecno, itel and Infinix brands – ultimately aims to gain Shimge’s stock listing, said Transsion spokeswoman Li Huijun.

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Chinese smartphone brands have been able to establish themselves in developed Western markets, but these suppliers have become more important in developing markets where they provide a range of affordable handsets.

Transsion has been offering a portfolio of devices priced from US$15 to US$400 in Africa.

Led by founder Zhu Zhaojiang, Transsion shipped nearly 12 million smartphones to Africa in the first three quarters of last year, helping it leapfrog Samsung Electronics and Apple to become the largest player on the continent, according to research firm Canalys.

Founded in 2006, Transsion has become the biggest smartphone supplier in countries from Kenya and Nigeria to Senegal.

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Few of China’s biggest smartphone vendors, from Huawei Technologies and Oppo to Vivo and Xiaomi, are publicly traded.

Transsion’s Li said the company is still exploring options with Shimge Pump and no financial details have been finalised.

Shimge Pump shares have been halted pending further announcements.

“One of the biggest reasons for their success was their distribution strategy where they managed to attract leading local resellers through the affordable offerings,” said Tarun Pathak, an analyst with Counterpoint Research.

Following its success in Africa, Transsion expanded into India in 2016.