The government of Zimbabwe has finalised its USD40 million acquisition of a 60% stake in mobile operator Telecel from the Netherlands-based VimpelCom group. The government says it has paid the remaining USD30 million for its stake and the deal has now completed; a USD10 million deposit had already been handed over by state-owned ISP Zarnet, which is being used as the vehicle for the transaction. It has been reported that the last USD30 million payment was made by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) on the government’s behalf.
VimpelCom had been looking to exit the Zimbabwe market for some time following protracted disagreements over its majority interest in Telecel; under local law, foreign investors are permitted to hold a maximum 49% stake in telecoms operators. There had also been problems concerning Telecel’s licence payments. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the other 40% of Telecel is owned by a consortium of domestic investors collectively known as Empowerment Corporation.