Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has raised part of the funding for its planned USD20 million GSM expansion drive through an offer of new shares to a foreign investor. After shareholders gave unanimous approval for the move, a South African institutional investor agreed to buy new shares for USD15 million. This is the first time the company has raised equity finance by issuing shares to a foreign investor since it was listed in September 1998. Econet intends to use the proceeds of the sale to help finance a project to expand network capacity from 800,000 to 1.2 million subscriber lines. Econet has also secured vendor financing and loans for the rest of the expansion. CEO Douglas Mboweni said the issuance of new shares had become necessary because of the acute shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe. ‘As a company we generate a lot of Zimbabwean dollars, but we cannot obtain foreign currency to pay for equipment. This issuance of shares has allowed us to raise money from our foreign shareholders as well as new investors,’ he said.