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VimpelCom Zimbabwe deal stalls

VimpelCom Zimbabwe deal stalls.

VimpelCom is still holding onto its 60% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe as payment for the shares by the government of the southern African country has not yet been completed.

Zimbabwe ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira this month told parliament that the government has completed payment for the stake, valued at US$40-million.

However, VimpelCom told ITWeb Africa last week that it still holds a 60% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe.

It has now emerged that although the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) of Zimbabwe has released the amount to settle the bid, the funds are still being held by Barclays Zimbabwe.

Sources within the financial services industry said international banks are applying stricter measures to govern transactions involving the Zimbabwe government.

"Barclays was this year fined for processing transactions involving Zimbabwe companies and entities on the sanctions list of the United States. Moreover, international banks have become strict in handling and processing of transactions and there could be a delay in having the funds released into VimpelCom's account," said a banking industry official who spoke under condition of anonymity.

Mandiwanzira has been quoted in Zimbabwean media outlets saying: "Zarnet has paid all the money and some of it is sitting in Barclays Bank in the account of VimpelCom's lawyers. We are now helping them move this money out of the country."

Zarnet is a state owned ICT company through which the government, which already owns state mobile operator NetOne, bought into Telecel Zimbabwe and bolstered its presence in the country's mobile telecommunications industry.

VimpelCom last year decided to sell its stake in Telecel Zimbabwe after encountering operational and regulatory hurdles in the country.

The government had initially cancelled its licence for failing to pay licence renewal fees and for not complying with empowerment laws requiring foreign firms to hold no-more than 49% in Zimbabwean companies.


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