MTN South Africa To Get Telecel Zimbabwe Shares

As a result of the deal, MTN will buy into Orascom assets in Algeria, Tunisia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Namibia and Zimbabwe

Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Telecel Globe, Orascom has 60 percent in Telecel Zimbabwe.

According to information obtained on Friday, MTN will retain 49 percent in Telecel Zimbabwe once payment goes through to comply with regulatory authorities.

Telecel Zimbabwe is currently operating without a licence after the authorities cancelled it in 2007 following the mobile operators’ failure to adhere to shareholding regulations that stipulate that locals should own majority shareholding.

Kai Uebach, Telecel Globe CEO, told journalists last month that his company was prepared to reduce its shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe.

The entry of MTN on the local scene will exert pressure on Econet which has enjoyed a huge chunk of the mobile market share.

With around four million subscribers, Econet controls over 60 percent of the mobile market share. Telecel is a distant second with one million subscribers while state owned Net One has 500 000 subscribers.

Orascom, which is based in Cairo, has market capitalisation of US$7.2 billion.

MTN said on Friday it was in talks that may or may not lead to a transaction.

On Friday, Orascom requested a suspension in trading of its global depositary shares in London pending an announcement, according to online reports.

Africa is the least with mobile penetration rate in the world with less than 50% of the population owning cellphones.

MTN has a market value of US$26.7 billion and has operations in 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East. By the end of last year, the mobile operator had 116 million subscribers and plans to add at least 20 million subscribers this year.