Minister under fire as Masawara set for Telecel take-over

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

INFORMATION Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira will force Telecel Zimbabwe’s largest shareholder, VimpelCom, to sell their shares to London-listed investment vehicle, Masawara, New Zimbabwe.com understands.

Masawara is registered in the tax haven of Jersey and fronted locally by former TA Holdings chairman, Shingi Mutasa who, according to highly-placed sources outraged by the proposed deal, is a friend of the ICT minister.

It remains unclear whether the deal has cabinet backing, but some ministers are understood to be voicing concern that the arrangement is not in line with the 'broad-based' intentions of the country's empowerment programme.

The government’s sudden crackdown against Telecel raised eyebrows but South Africa-based businessman Mutumwa Mawere, whose SMM Holdings was also curiously nationalised and mismanaged to complete collapse, said the company had a Mujuru problem.

“One of the untold stories behind the recent actions against Telecel must be the Mujuru factor. The demise of VP Mujuru, who is generally perceived to be a silent shareholder of Telecel Zimbabwe, necessarily had to have implications,” said Mawere in a recent article on the saga.

Telecel warned Tuesday that it would sue the government in international courts for breach on investment protection laws Harare agreed with the Swiss and Dutch governments.

Company lawyers said the government was trying to “unlawfully expropriate (its) investment through the improper cancellation of the licence without the provision of prompt, adequate and effective compensation”.

Details of the controversial plan to rope in Masawara emerged last night after Mandiwanzira met VimpelCom directors in Harare.

Efforts to check the allegations with Mandiwanzira were unsuccessful as his mobile phones were not answered.

As at 21 January 2015, Mutasa’s FMI Holdings controlled 51.3% of Masawara, with 42.2% in the hands of The Bank of New York (Nominees) while the Esi Wilhemina Daniels Memorial Trust controls 3%.

Dutch-based VimpelCom – who owns 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe - are in panic after the government gave the mobile phone firm 30 days to wind down its operations.
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