via Govt confirms plans to buy Telecel – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 16, 2015
Government confirmed yesterday its plans to buy Telecel Zimbabwe, saying the mobile operator’s shareholders have offered to sell their stake.
by BUSINESS REPORTER
NewsDay reported on Tuesday that government, through its Internet service provider Zarnet, was in negotiations to buy Telecel Zimbabwe. The transaction is being handled by CBZ Bank who are the financial advisers.
ICT, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira told Parliament yesterday that discussions were currently underway between Zarnet and Telecel shareholders.
“Recognising it [government] did not have immediate capacity to do the transaction, it has chosen one of the entities it owns to pursue the transaction in a commercial way,” Mandiwanzira said.
Telecel is owned 60% by Amsterdam-headquartered VimpleCom and the remainder is held by Empowerment Corporation (EC).
Mandiwanzira had been asked by legislators to confirm whether government intended to buy Telecel.
Government sources told NewsDay early this week that Telecel owed government in unpaid taxes and if penalties were applied, this would worsen its financial position.
“This exposure to government [taxes and licence fees] could give Zarnet an upper hand in negotiations,” a source said.
It could not be established what government would do if it successfully acquires the mobile operator.
There is an option of merging it with State-owned mobile operator NetOne and create the critical mass that would be able to compete with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. Another option would be to sell the shareholding to another company.
Telecel has meanwhile introduced 10 new franchise stores in the country in line with its plans to expand the mobile network’s retail footprint and generate additional revenue.
Telecel chief commercial officer Nkosinathi Ncube yesterday said that the retail expansion initiative had already begun with 10 franchise shops being opened in Rusape, Zvishavane, Chiredzi, Norton, Mutare, Harare, Gwanda, Bulawayo, Gutu and Gokwe.
“In order to improve overall customer service experience, Telecel has chosen local community franchise partners who will reflect our own brand values and dedication to customer excellence. The franchise shops will be staffed and operated by trained personnel to safeguard our brand values and award-winning customer service culture,” Ncube said.
He said the Telecel-led franchise partnerships would empower local businesspeople by providing startup capital and covering the costs of furnishing and branding the shops as well as providing Telecel-related stocks.