VimpelCom has confirmed that it will sell its Zimbabwean unit to state-owned ISP ZARnet.
Global Telecom Holding, which is controlled by VimpelCom, is selling its stake in Telecel International – which itself holds 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe – for $40 million, which is considerably less than VimpelCom could have reasonably expected given its prior investments. ZARnet will assume control of the holding “after customary conditions are satisfied”.
The Russian group has been looking to divest the holding for some time and previous reports had indicated that it had attracted a foreign investor to acquire the stake. However, the firm was prevented from making such a deal in order to give priority to ZARnet, which is fully owned by Zimbabwe’s government via the ICT Ministry.
VimpelCom has been present in Zimbabwe for a number of years – it has reportedly invested $237 million in mobile infrastructure since 1998 - and its tenure has not always been easy. The operator’s licence was suspended earlier this year, although has since received a reprieve.
The Russian group is divesting several of its assets via Global Telecom Holding, including units in Algeria, Burundi and Central African Republic.