Egypt's Orascom Telecom renews Zimbabwean mobile license

Reuters, Wednesday 7 Aug 2013

OT unclear on whether it had agreed to cut its stake in company to 40 percent, as previously demanded by Zimbabwean government as condition for license renewal

Egypt's Orascom Telecom said on Wednesday its majority-owned Zimbabwe subsidiary had renewed its mobile operating license for 20 years, but did not say whether it had agreed to a demand by the Zimbabwe government that it cut its stake in the business to 40 percent.

Telecel Zimbabwe paid $137.5 million for the license, Orascom said, the same amount the country's other two mobile companies had been asked to pay.

In May Zimbabwe had threatened not to renew the license until Orascom lowered its 60 percent stake by turning over a majority of its Telecel shares to local shareholders, Zimbabwe state media said at the time.

The government was demanding that a majority of the company, Zimbabwe's second-largest mobile operator, be owned by black Zimbabweans, the state-owned Herald had reported.

The earlier 15-year licence issued to Telecel, which has 2.6 million subscribers, expired in June.

Orascom Telecom itself is controlled by Russian international telecoms group Vimpelcom, which currently owns 51.9 percent of the company. Orascom's shares were trading 1 percent lower in Cairo at 4.59 Egyptian pounds at 1021 GMT.

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