Tanzania: Govt in negotiations to buy back 35 per cent shares in Bharti Airtel

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The government has started negotiations with Airtel Tanzania Limited to offload the remaining 35 percent shares to the Tanzania Telecommucation Company Limited, a move that will enable the firm to compete more effectively with other mobile companies in the country.

This follows directives from the Parliamentary Economic Infrastructures Committee (EIC) issued on October 22 this year calling the firm to pressurise the government to speed up the buyback of shares that Airtel Tanzania holds in TTCL.

TTCL Chief Executive Officer Kamugisha Kazaura told The Guardian in a telephone interview on Tuesday that the two sides just met a month ago for talks on government’s intention to gain full ownership of the Telecom company.

“We had talks with our fellow partner on how to buy the shares. We are still working on the financial reports which are update- audited,” he said noting that the move is intended to look at how the situation economically is in Airtel before buying the shares.

He said that it is their hope that the government will do everything to get back the shares for TTCL to get full authority of the company. TTCL holds 65 percent shares while the other 35 percent are owned by Airtel Tanzania.

Last year, the government announced that it had formally begun the process of buying back the shares that had been sold to the consortium of MSI of The Netherlands and Detecon of Germany for USD62m in February 2001. At that time, the company was operating as Celtel.

The shares were then sold to Kuwait-based Zain Group, which, in 2010, sold all its operations in Africa to Bharti Airtel of India.

In April 2010, before Zain sold its shares to Bharti Airtel, the government and the Kuwait-based company had signed an agreement to buy the shares to make TTCL government-owned.

However, the deal could not be reached because at the time the government was offering 14bn/- ($8.7m) while Zain asked for 100bn/- ($62m).