Russia-based Vimpelcom group has revealed that it is planning to offload its indirect stake in Zimbabwe’s third largest mobile operator, Telecel. Vimpelcom’s 51.9% subsidiary Global Telecom Holding (GTH – formerly Orascom Telecom Holding) is to sell its 60% interest in Telecel, with bids having already been invited from interested parties. According to an unnamed source quoted by local newspaper The Herald, a buyer could be announced within a matter of weeks. Telecel’s other shareholder alongside GTH is the local Empowerment Corporation (E Corp), which has a 40% stake and is itself owned by Kestrel (23%), IEG (18%), Indigenous Business Women’s Organisation (17%), National Miners’ Association (14%), Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (14%) and Magamba eChimurenga (14%).
The disposal of Telecel forms part of a strategic review by Vimpelcom of its international assets; in October it sold its mobile operations in the Central African Republic and Burundi to South Africa-based Econet Wireless Group for USD65 million. Econet Wireless already controls the largest cellular operator in Zimbabwe, which has over 63% of the overall market ahead of state-owned NetOne (around 20%) and Telecel (16%). Telecel has been under pressure for some time to reduce its foreign ownership level to the legal threshold of 49%.