State retains 40% stake in Zain, receives USD11m from new owner

2 Jul 2010

The government of Tanzania is set to receive TZS15.4 billion (USD11.2 million) and to hold on to its 40% stake in fixed and mobile operator Zain Tanzania following the sale of the telco to India’s Bharti Airtel. Last month the Indians finalised the acquisition of the African assets of Kuwait-based Zain Group, with the deal valued at USD10.7 billion. Under the terms of the deal, first announced in March 2010, Bharti will pay USD8.3 billion upfront, followed by a further cash payment of USD700 million after one year, while it will also take over approximately USD1.7 billion of Zain’s debt. Local newspaper The Citizen now reports that the country’s minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof Peter Msolla, told the National Assembly that the government is still in talks with Bharti Airtel concerning the sale. In a debate on the country’s budget for the 2010/11 financial year, Msolla said: ‘We met with the company’s officials on 21 June to discuss the sale… We have told them to finalise the evaluation of the assets so that we can determine whether the payment made to us is satisfactory.’ The minister went on to add: ‘Since the government has shares in the company, it is imperative that it be involved in transactions regarding the sale. The shares we hold in the company are assets that ensure our role is not underestimated.’

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Bharti has taken over Zain’s operations in 15 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The Kuwaiti company’s subsidiaries in Morocco and Sudan were not included in the sale.

Tanzania, Airtel Tanzania