Econet takes over TN Bank

ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) will assume total control of TN Bank after TN founder Tawanda Nyambirai offloaded his stake for an equivalent value of Econet shares.

Report By Taurai Mangudhla

Nyambirai also announced his resignation from the position of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd board chairman but will join the board of Econet Wireless Global, the holding company of the mobile phone operator.

He cited possible conflict of interest on his role given that he would own minority but significant shareholding in the telecommunications firm post the transaction, which is still awaiting regulatory nod.

The development will see the new TN Bank majority shareholder delisting the financial institution from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) where it listed as a stand-alone unit from previous parent company, Life Style Holdings, earlier this year.

Nyambirai, currently Lifestyle Holdings CEO, served on the board of the country’s largest mobile phone operator since 1998 and as chairman since 2003.

He said he made the decision to trade his remaining shareholding in TN Bank after meeting London-based Econet Global founder Strive Masiyiwa to tender his resignation in person earlier this week.

“I have made the resolution to resign from the board as the minority shareholding will make me conflicted as both a chairman and a director. I will cease to be independent,” he said without specifying how much shareholding he would assume in Econet.

“I cannot share with you specific details because it is still subject to approval by SECZ (Securities Commission of Zimbabwe).”

In a brief statement on the departure of Nyambirai from the board, Masiyiwa said: “Tawanda Nyambirai has done an extraordinary job for us. He led the legal team that fought for the original license in the courts. He has overseen the development of the business ever since I left Zimbabwe 12 years ago. He is a historical companion to me, and I look forward to working even closer with him in other roles that I have for him.”

Masiyiwa said the board appointed (board member) James Myers the new non-executive chairman.

This comes a few weeks after businessdigest reported Masiyiwa-controlled Econet was performing a surgical separation of the former TN Holdings assets from those of the bank.

Through the injection of US$20 million, Econet acquired a 45% stake through the dilution of TN Bank limited shareholders. 

The plan is to make TN Bank one of the top four banks in the country.  TN Holdings became a stand-alone company and subsequently changed its name to Lifestyle Holdings.

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