MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND FINANCIAL RESULTS

ECONET WIRELESS GROUP TO SEEK UK STOCK MARKET LISTING

Econet Wireless Group has announced plans to seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) through an initial public offering that the company estimates will raise between US$400 million and US$500 million. Econet Group Chief Executive Strive Masiyiwa confirmed this week plans to seek a London listing saying the group is confident of success because of the immense interest in Econet which operates in Africa, UK and the East Asia Pacific Rim in particular, and telecommunications sector in Africa in general.

"There is tremendous interest in our company and we have decided to go for public equity as opposed to private equity funding because there many investors who want to participate in the growth of our company. In addition, there is also renewed interest in telecommunications business in Africa in general," he said.

"We have therefore decided to seek a listing in the UK to raise funds to retire debt and also expand our existing operations spread across several continents. The amount to be raised however excludes funding that we need to acquire additional shares in Vee Mobile in Nigeria when we have resolved the current shareholder issue," Masiyiwa said.

Masiyiwa said financial advisors have already been appointed to work on the proposed listing and he is confident this will be achieved by May next year if everything goes according to plan. "It could be later but our original target right now is around May next year," he said.

Masiyiwa said the UK had less stringent foreign exchange regulations compared to South Africa where the group had originally considered to list. He also said Econet is about to finalize at least two significant acquisitions in the telecommunications sector and he expects an announcement to be made before the end of the year. "Naturally for strategic and competitive reasons we can't say more at present," Masiyiwa said.Meanwhile, Masiyiwa announced that Econet will early next year start building a new 3G mobile network in New Zealand and said supplier contracts are being finalized and should be signed before the end of this year.

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