The ongoing saga concerning the ownership of Zimbabwe mobile operator Telecel has taken a new twist with the news that 40% shareholder Empowerment Corporation (EC) may sue former 60% owner VimpelCom for failing to give it first right of refusal when it agreed to sell its interest to the Zimbabwe government. A report from Daily News cites a letter from E Corp lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa to VimpelCom chief executive Jean-Yves Charlier which says the deal between VimpelCom, its holding company Telecel International and the government was ‘null and void’ as it breached an existing shareholders’ agreement.
Mlotshwa says EC was ‘deliberately shut out’ of the sale negotiations and is now demanding access to all details of the proposed transaction between VimpelCom and the government so that it can decide whether or not it will exercise its pre-emptive rights. Mlotshwa’s letter also says EC is contemplating legal action or proceedings against VimpelCom and the Zimbabwean government. The government had earlier offered to pay USD40 million to acquire the 60% stake in Telecel via state-owned ISP Zarnet, with funding coming from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).