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Zimbabwe: September deadline for TelOne, NetOne privatisation

Zimbabwe September deadline for TelOne, NetOne privatisation

Zimbabwe government-owned telecoms company, TelOne, and its mobile subsidiary NetOne, will be partially privatised by September 2019 according to the country's finance minister, Mthuli Ncube.

Ncube revealed that TelOne and NetOne have a joint financial loss of more than US$100-million.

He said the government is looking to fast-track the partial privatisation process that would result in the state owning at least 40% equity in TelOne and NetOne, which are offered as a joint package to potential investors led by MTN and Telkom.

"We think that government should not have less than 40 percent equity in the two companies. That is what we are targeting but of course we are always free to negotiate with investors. We are going to make progress on this," said the Minister.

Ncube confirmed that MTN has been in negotiation with the Zimbabwean government since September 2018.

The government is hoping to raise a total of US$350-million from the sale of stakes in TelOne, NetOne and three other state-owned companies - Telecel, state post office ZimPost and the People's Own Savings Bank.

Ncube said Cabinet has approved the joint package privatisation plan, adding that government will secure better monetary value if NetOne and TelOne are offloaded together as a package.

"Both companies will be well positioned to compete with competitors such as Econet in the market. In doing so we have to ensure that they are offered as a package together. It is a joint offering to an investor," he said.

Ncube noted that proceeds from the sale of stake will help reduce budget deficit from 12% to 5% of GDP.

Privatising TelOne and NetOne is part of Zimbabwe's economic blueprint or Transitional Stabilisation Programme that advances President Mnangagwa's Vision 2030 of transforming the country into an upper middle income economy.

Ncube said the government has identified 43 state-owned entities for reform.

An audit showed that in 2016, 38 state-owned enterprises incurred a loss of US$270-million in total. The audit also revealed that out of the country's 93 state-owned enterprises, 70% were technically insolvent or illiquid.

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