'Telecel Stake Not Up for Grabs' in Zimbabwe

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Telecel Zimbabwe is not prepared to sell part of its stake to MTN of South Africa, at least for now, as the country's third mobile phone operator embarks on a massive US$40 million network expansion.

It is understood the company's expansion programme would commence "very soon" targeting additional 950 000 new subscribers by year-end. It will be implemented in two phases, with the first expected to be completed by September.

According to Telecel insiders, the loan was sourced with the help of Orascom, the largest shareholder in Telecel with 51 percent equity. A few months ago, there were reports that MTN, Africa's largest mobile operator was eyeing a substantial stake in Telecel.

"As far as we (shareholders) are concerned, no one is selling anything at least for now," said one shareholder. We are actually focusing on network expansion and we are hoping to raise our subscriber base to 1,2 million by end of this year," the shareholder added.

Telecel's current subscriber base stands at 350,000. Apart from 51 percent owned by Orascom, the 49 percent is owned by a consortium of local investors led by exiled James Makamba.

Some technicians from Orascom of Egypt are already in the country working on upgrading modalities. Deliveries of equipment being imported from Belgium-based Siemens and Hauwei of China have started. "The equipment is coming in. We are getting supplies from two vendors and we have already identified areas where new base stations would be installed," said Telecel senior executive.

The Herald