Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom Ltd is preparing to launch a legal battle against the government of Zimbabwe over the cancellation of the operating licence of its 60% subsidiary in the country, Telecel. According to a report from DailyNews, Vimpelcom is looking to file an international arbitration against the government in October.
The Russian group is unhappy that authorities revoked Telecel’s concession in April this year after disagreements over licence fee payments and the company’s foreign ownership. Vimpelcom says the licence cancellation also contravened bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements (BIPPAs). Telecel went to court to get its licence returned temporarily pending an appeal, and it has continued to offer services.
Vimpelcom’s chief group business development and portfolio officer Anton Kudryashov said: ‘We don’t feel welcome in Zimbabwe and it’s not good. We want to feel appreciated for what we are doing and we would like to see our licence fully restored.’ He did go on to add, however, that the situation is improving and there is now an ongoing dialogue between the parties: ‘We have seen a lot of support in the past few months and based on that we want to invest in Zimbabwe. Our ambition is to grow our market share and manage the business in a most cost effective way.’