GOVERNMENT is moving to complete the sale of its majority shareholding in fixed telecommunications company TelOne and mobile operator NetOne by year-end, businessdigest has learnt.
There has been an interest by various investors to enter the telecoms sector in Zimbabwe. Among those who have expressed interest in the past are South African mobile giants MTN and Telkom, as well as multi-billionaire daughter of former Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel. Government is looking to dispose of its stake and retain just 26% shareholding in both companies.
Speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural “Conversation with Trevor Ncube” in Harare on Wednesday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told businessdigest that there has been progress on the transaction.
Trevor is chairperson of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), publishers of the Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and NewsDay.
“Initially we wanted to privatise these (TelOne and NetOne) as separate entities then we decided to do them as a package so we had to get an adviser for both transactions as one and that step takes quite a while,” Ncube said.
“The financial adviser is receiving interested parties who want to invest. We are making progress.”
Quizzed if MTN could be one of the investors looking to buy a stake in the two state entities, minister Ncube hinted that the mobile network could be one of the investors who have expressed interest.
“I cannot tell you who has expressed interest but those kinds of names are still in the ring I hope,” he said.
“I will get a report from the financial adviser soon. I want this to move fast and it would be nice if by year-end this can be concluded.”
On mobile operator Telecel, he said the government is working on paying US$20 million to become the sole shareholder in the entity.
“We paid something towards the shareholding. We have got another US$20 million to pay. We are working on paying off the rest so that we completely take over the shareholding as government,” he revealed.
The Finance minister said once it acquires the entire shareholding of Telecel, it will sell the majority of its stake and remain with 26% in the company.
“Once we have concluded that (the purchase of Telecel) we are in a position to shed off some shareholding to other strategic partners to grow the asset to ensure there is value for money,” minister Ncube said.
“There is a reason why we are choosing to remain with 26% because this is what we call effective minority shareholding which we can use to block certain decisions. If it is below that, we are not effective.”