Telecel board plans recapitalisation

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<strong>HARARE </strong>- TELECEL Zimbabwe (Telecel) is planning to invest in network expansion as part of strategies to keep ahead of competition in the country’s telecommunication industry.</p>

This was revealed by the company’s chairperson James Makamba after the six-member board, comprising Francis Mawindi, Selby Hwacha, Jane Mutasa, Barbara Rwodzi and Gerald Mlotshwa, met in Harare on Wednesday.

“The meeting covered network expansion and capital investment options amongst other topical strategic issues,” he said.

Telecel, whose majority stake was acquired by the Zimbabwean government from Netherlands-based VimpelCom almost two years ago, is seeking $200 million to recapitalise its operations.

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ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira last year said part of the funds would be used for network upgrade.

The country’s third largest mobile telecommunications firm has already commenced the network upgrades necessary to close the identified and well-known gaps in its service provision and rolled out its 4.5G LTE infrastructure in late 2017.

“Shareholders and the Telecel team are working diligently to secure additional funding in order to recapitalise the organisation and ensure that Telecel competes effectively in the telecommunication industry. At this stage, negotiations and discussions are ongoing with financiers for an investment of over $200 million to kick-start the Telecel project,” Mandiwanzira said then.

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Government in 2016 announced that ZARNet had bought the 60 percent stake in Telecel from Global Telecom Holding SAE, a subsidiary of VimpelCom.

The remaining 40 percent equity in Telecel is held by Empowerment Corporation, a consortium of local empowerment groups.

Mandiwanzira, who was instrumental in the $40 million deal, recently said he was inundated with calls from various investors who want to acquire government’s 60 percent shareholding in the mobile network provider.

The Zimbabwe government is a major player in the telecommunications sector as it also owns NetOne and TelOne.

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“I want to make it very clear that I’m merely a custodian of government assets as the minister of ICT. I don’t have an individual say on government assets. As far as I’m concerned, I have no mandate to sell government’s 60 percent shareholding in Telecel to…anybody.

“But that position may change should there be a serious offer backed by proof of payment, ability to pay off outstanding obligations that are due to shareholders of Telecel and that change does not come from me, but from my principal and Cabinet,” he said. — The Financial Gazette

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