TeleAccess fears won’t wring Jewel profits’

Chris Goko/Shakeman Mugari

THE Jewel Bank of Zimbabwe, formerly trading as Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, this week insisted that it was continuing with TeleAccess (Pvt) Ltd funding and that it was amply cover

ed to take out profit-warning statements, despite heightened threats to the telecommunications project’s licence by government.

Nyasha Makuvise, the bank’s managing director and chief executive, was on Wednesday adamant that the project was “going ahead”, at a time Transport and Communications permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke refreshed his ministry’s desire to revoke the two-year-old licence.

“We have made it clear that we are not happy with their (TeleAccess’) delay. We will revoke the licence that’s all,” Kaseke said without giving time frames for the planned Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) action.

Government believes the telecoms upstart had not done “enough” to keep that licence, Kaseke added, saying: “We have made our position clear in parliament and to them that we will revoke the licence.”

Makuvise, sustaining the Daniel Shumba-led company on a $150 billion life support, was, however, self-assured that the investment was not only safe, but also that the Jewel Bank would not lose a cent.

“As banks, we always embrace risks. You cannot avoid it (risks), but learn to manage it,” he told businessdigest.

Without committing himself to the worse case scenario of TeleAccess losing its licence altogether and the bank markedly losing funds, Makuvise said the Jewel Bank’s “provisioning culture catered” for that.

While TeleAccess’ viability is not in doubt, once the company starts operating, it seems the Jewel Bank’s continued support is also based on the fact that it financed other telecoms companies Econet Wireless and Telecel in almost similar circumstances.

Much as businessdigest could not readily ascertain what sort of funding structure the bank had put in place to warrant assured security of invested monies, new information suggests that TeleAccess is working on a new two-pronged funding arrangement to be consummated early December and hopefully save its licence.

Such measures, sources said, included the implementation of a long-stalled private placement, guaranteeing new equity injections by both local and international investors. Shumba early this week rebuffed this paper’s attempts to seek clarification on whether the new thrust had been forced on him by circumstances or was consensual.