We still own Telecel: Vimpelcom

HARARE - NasdaQ-listed international communications and technology company, VimpelCom, has refuted government claims that it was paid $40 million for its 60 percent stake in Telecel Zimbabwe (Telecel).

VimpelCom’s spokesperson Rozzyn Boy told the business Live on Wednesday that the Netherlands-based company still has a presence in Zimbabwe.

“As of today, VimpelCom and  Global Telecom Holdings (GTH) remain a 60 percent shareholder in Telecel and we look forward to completing the sale only after satisfaction of all customary closing conditions are met,” she said in emailed responses.

This was after Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira on Monday told a committee of Parliament the government had raised the $40 million from National Social Security Authority (Nssa), a State-run national pension fund.

“I . . . confirm that the government of Zimbabwe, through Zarnet, entered into an agreement for the purchase of the 60 percent shareholding of Telecel Zimbabwe which is held by Telecel International which in turn is owned by GTH, a subsidiary of VimpelCom. The purchase price for the 60 percent was negotiated at $40 million and that full amount has been paid,” he said.

Vimpelcom announced in November, it had agreed to sell to the government its shares in the southern African nation’s smallest mobile telecommunication company. The investment in Telecel was done through little known government-owned Internet service provider Zarnet.

However, sources at Telecel also confirmed to business Live that VimpelCom expatriates were still stationed in the country pending finalisation of the sale.

“It is not true that Telecel is now a Zimbabwean entity as the minister wants the nation to believe,” said the source, adding that VimpelCom was still calling the shots at the company.

Telecel’s remaining 40 percent is owned by Empowerment Corporation, a group of local shareholders who have also approached Nssa to buy their shares.

Mandiwanzira blamed the country’s biting liquidity crunch for the delay in finalising the transactions.

“Some of the funds are still in Zimbabwe because of issues relating to liquidity for funding Nostro accounts,” the Nyanga South legislator said.

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