Libya’s LapGreen Networks has had its USD257 million bid accepted for a 75% stake in Zambian fixed line incumbent Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel), Dow Jones Newswires reports. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) announced that the Libyan company had beaten out bids from Russian telecoms investment firm Altimo and Unitel of Angola for the majority holding, with minister of finance and national planning Situmbeko Musokotwane saying of the sale: ‘The government of Zambia has today paved the way for completing the most significant privatisation in the history of Zambia.’ The minister also said that LapGreen’s stake acquisition would provide the necessary resources and experience to turn the ailing telco around, while also boosting access to affordable services including high speed internet. Under the terms of the offer, as well as the initial purchase price LapGreen is understood to have agreed to invest approximately USD127 million in the expansion and upgrade of Zamtel’s existing infrastructure.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the sale of a stake in Zamtel was first formally announced in September 2009, with the ZDA at that date inviting interested parties to submit applications to bid. The following month the regulator announced it had shortlisted eight companies including South Africa’s Telkom, Indian state-owned pair Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Portugal Telecom. In the end however just four submitted bids – LapGreen, Altimo, Unitel and BSNL – with BSNL withdrawing from the sale process in March 2010. The government will retain a 25% stake which it may sell at a later stage through an initial public offering on the Lusaka bourse, and completion of the deal is expected by the end of June 2010.