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Zim govt's pursuit of Telecel takes a turn

Zim govt's pursuit of Telecel takes a turn.

The Zimbabwean government's plans to acquire the remaining 40% minority shares in Telecel Zimbabwe, the country's second largest telecom operator, has been met with resistance from shareholders.

In November the government completed the acquisition of a majority stake (60%) in Telecel Zimbabwe for US$40m from VimpelCom. The remaining shares are owned by a consortium of entrepreneurs, the Empowerment Corporation (EC).

EC shareholders include James Makamba, Jane Mutasa (Indigenous Business Women Organisation), Leo Mugabe (Integrated Engineering Group) and Phillip Chiyangwa (Affirmative Action Group).

It emerged this week that EC is resisting the government's bid and is demanding US$52,4 million, including 30% management fees pegged at 5% of gross revenues of US$140 million.

Sources told ITWeb Africa this week that the government is unwilling to pay the required US$52,4m and although the country's ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira has confirmed negotiations with the EC are continuing, it was poised for a take-over of the remaining stake.

Members of the seemingly divided consortium are believed to have initially agreed to sell their stake, but some are now unwilling to capitulate and internal disagreement is reportedly hampering negotiations.

Members of the consortium have also refused to comment on the situation.

As part of a hostile take-over bid, the Zimbabwe government paid out approximately $300 million in capital investment into the country's telecommunications sector, where it has now established a significant interest following the VimpelCom deal.

The government's interests in the sector now encompass two mobile operators, Telecel and NetOne, as well as fixed phone operator, TelOne and internet services provider, Powertel, among others.

Telecel Zimbabwe has just below 3 million subscribers on its network and about 1 million registered mobile money users

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