Econet eyes further stake in Nigeria

Godfrey Marawanyika

BUOYED by its boardroom victory in Nigeria last week, Econet Wireless International (EWI), the holding company of Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN), is looking into ways of increasing its sta

ke in the West African country.


The EWN deal with Vodacom in Nigeria was last week cancelled because of problems pertaining to issues of corporate governance.


EWI chief executive officer Strive Masiyiwa this week confirmed that they were now looking at ways to increase their stake in Nigeria.


“We are working on details to increase our stake in Nigeria,” Masiyiwa said.


“We hope that we will have finalised the process of increasing our stake in Nigeria very soon but I do not have the date when that will be.”


Following the withdrawal of Vodacom in Nigeria under the previous management contract agreement, three senior executives of the South African mobile giant immediately resigned from the firm.


Under the previous management deal, Vodacom had put its own executives to run EWN, which would have enabled the mobile provider to make a $250 million bid to buy a 51% stake in the business.


Commenting on the problems which they had faced, Masiyiwa said he knew problems would be encountered since the South African firm had indicated their interest in venturing into Nigeria.


“I knew from last year that they would be problems because of what was happening,” Masiyiwa said.


“People were trying to replace us in Nigeria, but we went before God and he assisted us.”


Vodacom has over the past months been vigorously fighting for a controlling stake investment in Nigeria, something which EWN has been contesting.


The case was now being handled by the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration.


The wrangle was initially expected to take months to be resolved for the hearing but even though Vodacom pulled out of Nigeria the case will still be heard, Masiyiwa insists.


Econet had filed a statement of claim in which it argued that it had pre-emptive rights over the offer made by Vodacom.


The court’s decision is expected by the end of July.

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