The Zimbabwean government has declined to renew the operating licence of the country’s third largest cellco in terms of subscribers, Telecel Zimbabwe, for reportedly failing to adhere to the country’s foreign ownership laws, PC Advisor reports. Telecel is currently 60%-owned by Telecel Globe, itself ultimately owned by Russia’s Vimpelcom Group, putting it in breach of the current law which states that 60% of Zimbabwean company shares must be locally owned.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Telecel Zimbabwe’s mobile licence expired last month and the company was said to be in the process of tackling its shareholding woes before its renewal. Although local media reports emerged suggesting that Zimbabwe’s local investment group Empowerment Corporation (E Corp) had acquired a further 11% stake in Telecel, thus upping its 40% share to 51%, neither party has confirmed the deal. Earlier this week E Corp was said to be in negotiations to acquire an additional 9% stake in Telecel, thus raising its enlarged stake above the 60% threshold, but it now appears that the investor’s slow progress has forced the government’s hand.