THE acquisition of Telecel Zimbabwe by the government-controlled Zarnet has suffered a major setback despite the payment of an outstanding US$30 million by the state-run pension scheme, National Social Security Authority (Nssa) to the international telecommunications giant, VimpelCom.
By Elias Mambo
In an interview with Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira said the take-over VimpelCom’s 60% stake in Telecel has not been completed due to delays by Barclays Bank in Zimbabwe to transfer the money to the Netherlands.
Zarnet paid US$10 million in November last year, with the remaining US$30 million transferred by Nssa into the Barclays Bank Zimbabwe in February this year.
Zarnet, an internet service provider, and international telecommunications company, Global Telecom Holding, a VimpelCom subsidiary, entered into a sale and purchase agreement of Telecel Zimbabwe.
The agreement was on terms and against payment of the purchase price of US$10 million.
Zarnet was to acquire 100% shareholding in Telecel International Ltd (TIL) which in turn owns 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe.
“The fact of the matter is that Zarnet bought 60% shareholding from VimpelCom. The purchase is not in doubt. What has not yet happened is the conclusion of that transaction as a result of the impossibilities which we are trying to deal with,” he said.
“The transaction has been concluded to the extent of paying money to VimpelCom through their nominated lawyers in Zimbabwe. The money is sitting in Barclays Bank in an account belonging to the lawyers of VimpelCom. So Zarnet has done its part.
“Barclays bank has been having a problem of transferring that money due to non-funding of its nostro accounts internationally and as a result Barclays then approached the ministry to facilitate discussions with the central bank and the process will be concluded in May.”
The contradictions on the state of the acquisition of Telecel Zimbabwe comes on the backdrop of media reports that VimpelCom still owns a controlling stake in Telecel Zimbabwe.
Last week VimpelCom’s chief communications officer, Rozzyn Boy, said the company still maintained its 60% stake in Telecel.
“As of today, VimpelCom and GTH (Global Telecom Holding) remain a 60% shareholder in Telecel and we look forward to completing the sale only after satisfaction of all customary closing conditions are met,” he said.
Other than the delays, Mandiwanzira also said there is confusion over the 40% stake owned by the local consortium, Empowerment Corporation.
“We have heard different people claiming they have shares in Telecel through Empowerment Corporation and these include the war veterans, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Small Scale Miners Association and even Leo Mugabe,” he said.
“Government will look into the real owners of the shares, whether they paid for the shares and how much they have extracted from those shares. Actually government wants to own 100% of the shares in Telecel. We want to acertain how much money they deserve if there is anything to be paid for.”