Published On: Wed, Nov 30th, 2016

Government completes Telecel takeover

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Beaven Dhliwayo

Harare – The Zimbabwe government has finally concluded the protracted deal with VimpelCom and Global Telecom to take over their 60 percent stake in mobile network company Telecel.

In a communique signed off by Telecel CEO Angeline Vere to colleagues Wednesday she said management will continue to focus on ensuring that the organization’s functions continue to run smoothly over the transition period.

Vere said the new ownership creates new opportunities for the company by bringing in much-needed recapitalization necessary for the growth and development of the company.

“Management will continue to focus on ensuring that the organization functions smoothly in the transition. It is very much business as usual and we should all remain hardworking and committed to serving our customers to the highest Telecel standards.

“The conclusion of the sale creates numerous opportunities for the company in that the transaction will bring clarity to the organization and allow for recapitalization and growth of business.

“With these opportunities, we should all now focus our energies and resources on our strategic growth plans in developing our organization to the best of its potential and fulfilling our corporate values of customer service, innovation and value for money,” she added.

The Telecel Zimbabwe takeover bid has been delayed over the years with the latest being that of Empowerment Corporation, a shareholder with 40 percent stake threatening to sue Netherlands headquartered VimpelCom over pre-emptive rights in the 60 percent sale.

In a bid to fight off rival consortiums, government manoeuvred to get control of the process by threatening in January last year to cancel Telecel’s license.

It eventually cancelled the license on April 29 alleging Telecel had failed to pay US$137,5 million in license fees. The license was only restored on May 7 after a bruising legal battle.

Prior to government taking over Telecel, various consortiums were jostling for the company, including investment holding and advisory company Brainworks, a US-based group led by former Telecel chief executive Francis Mawindi, Shingi Mutasa’s London-listed Masawara and a local partnership involving Old Mutual, CBZ and the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) which has a US$1,2 billion balance sheet.

Nssa generates surplus contributions in excess of US$10 million per month, which it is authorised to invest.

The consortium comprising Old Mutual, CBZ and Nssa vigorously pushed to take over Telecel Zimbabwe until it was elbowed out by government.

It is currently the smallest of the three mobile operators in Zimbabwe. In the most recent tally from the telecoms regulator, Telecel had 1,919 million active subscribers