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Confusion over Telecel Zimbabwe ownership

Confusion over Telecel Zimbabwe ownership.

Zimbabwe has not yet completed acquisition of VimpelCom's 60% majority control in Telecel Zimbabwe, the global telecommunications services company told ITWeb Africa on Thursday.

VimpelCom last year decided to offload its stake in Telecel Zimbabwe after encountering regulatory and licence fee renewal hurdles. The government accused it of not complying with indigenisation regulations that require that foreign companies give up majority shares to locals.

Recently, Zimbabwe ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira has said that the government has completed acquisition of the 60% shares after paying out VimpelCom for its stake. However, VimpelCom has confirmed to ITWeb Africa that it still retains 60% ownership of Telecel Zimbabwe.

Sources have also said VimpelCom was still involved in the running of Telecel Zimbabwe while other officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that payment and other conditions to the buy-out have not yet been completed.

"As of today, VimpelCom and GTH remain a 60% shareholder in Telecel and we look forward to completing the sale only after satisfaction of all customary closing conditions are met," said Rozzyn Boy, spokesperson for VimpelCom.

Telecel Zimbabwe is one of the three mobile operators in the southern African country and has around 2.5 million registered subscribers. It also runs Telecash, a mobile money service that competes with Econet Wireless' EcoCash platform and the One Wallet mobile money service run by NetOne, a mobile company in which the government has majority shares.

"There is still involvement by VimpelCom in the running of the company but we have been informed that NSSA has raised money to finance the government's bid for the shares. We have not been informed if this has now been completed," said a senior staffer at Telecel Zimbabwe.

Mandiwanzira was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. He has however told a parliamentary portfolio committee on ICT this month that: "The purchase price for the 60 percent was negotiated at $40 million and that full amount has been paid."

The Zimbabwe government made its bid to acquire VimpelCom's shares in Telecel Zimbabwe through Zarnet, a state owned ICT company, but according to official statements, the money for the purchase has been funded by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) in Zimbabwe.


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