LISTED Econet Wireless Holdings (EWH) intends using part of the US$14 million (about $86 billion) windfall from the 14% sale of its Mascom Wireless stake to group associate Econet Wireless Group (EWG) in expanding wholly-owned Econet Wire
less Zimbabwe (EWZ)’s network capacity and notching 500 000 subscribers.
Company officials indicated this week that foreign cash from the minority-sale of stakes in EWG’s fellow Botswana firm, Mascom, would be used towards importing essential equipment for EWZ’s expansion before the end of 2005.
The deal, emerging the largest in the history of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, smashes another record set by Econet itself a year ago when the Harare company bought the same shares from its founder Strive Masiyiwa in an all-paper transaction.
However, shareholders are set to approve the transaction — first hinted on December 10 — at a combined annual and extraordinary general meeting at the end of the month.
Masiyiwa’s US$1,4 million investment in Gaborone’s largest general services mobile (GSM) operator in 1997 was probably the most successful cross-border investment the telecoms mogul made when he was still living in Zimbabwe.
To date, the Botswana cellular venture has yielded more than US$16 million for the Zimbabwean economy.
EWZ, currently overwhelmed by demand for its services due to inadequate capacity attached to foreign currency shortages to procure network equipment, hopes to further consolidate its already dominant market position as the country’s largest telecommunications firm.
Meanwhile, Econet has issued a circular to shareholders, with a proposal to consolidate its share register in a bid to reduce costs arising from hyperinflation.
The share buy-back proposals are also scheduled for approval at the December 31 meeting at its Harare head office. — Staff Writer.