Telco MTN Cyprus chief gets aggressive with Cyta

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 * Aims for 50% market share “in a year” *

MTN Cyprus chief executive Philip van Dalsen believes that the island’s alternative telco, until recently co-owned by the NK Shacolas Group, will be able to raise its market share from 34% to 50%,
And he hopes to achieve that target by hiring more people, a welcome statement from any employer in times of crisis.
The Shacolas Group and Greek partners Germanos, initial founders in MTN Cyprus, sold the remaining 50% stake they held in the operator to MTN Group for 73 mln euros in early February, in order to focus on the development of holiday and leisure projects.
“From a 34% market share, I really want to reach 50%, and I know we can do this, just give me a year,” van Dalsen said, indicating that he aims to grab a bigger share from government-owned Cyta.
“We are a lean, mean company, with very young and energetic staff, and a very aggressive sales team,” he said, adding that companies nowadays need to be transparent, to interact with their customers.
“There are risks, challenges and opportunities. There are also concerns – mainly about job security. Our policy is one of no pay cuts, no dismissals. We would like to hire more.”
Van Dalsen said that MTN Cyprus, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN Group, is in a better position spending-wise because their products are 30% cheaper than their rivals and are rolling out 3G high speed mobile telephony “everywhere. We have invested millions in our network upgrade,” he told a briefing of journalists.
Van Dalsen, trying to emulate the aggressive, anti-establishment marketing tactics of Virgin’s Richard Branson and low-cost Easy Group’s Stelios HajiIoannou, said that MTN was introducing a recession-beating 50% discount on monthly rental rates for 18 months.
“Cyprus is the most modern and innovative market for us within the MTN Group and we are looking to introduce new services such as LTE, for which we are still in discussion with government.
“But that is also one of my frustrations. We are accused of unfair competition in telesales. Cyta doesn’t like it, even though CytaHellas does the same from Greece. This is childish, they cannot accept that they are not a monopoly any more.”
Van Dalsen said that number portability is still a problem. “From us to transfer to Cyta takes two days, they need ten days. The regulator needs to step in as our complaint has been on their desk for more than a year. It also takes Cyta 12 weeks to connect our fibre clients, while they need just four days for their clients.”
MTN’s Dutch CEO added that the government and state agencies must also change their policies towards providers. “We cannot offer our services, only Cyta can. If this continues, we will take measures, Brussels should look into it.”
“We are preparing for the bigger battle and very soon we will come back with very good promotions,” he said.