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MTN Uganda looks to boost local shareholding after arrests

MTN Uganda looks to boost local shareholding in the face of executive arrests

MTN Uganda is considering selling an undisclosed amount of shares to the country’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as part of a drive to increase local ownership.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, MTN Group CEO was told by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni: “It is important that you float shares on the local stock exchange to allow for local ownership now that the licence has been renewed”, and noted that one was of doing this would be “disposing shares to NSSF”.

In addition to pressure from the country’s government to increase local shareholding, MTN Uganda also faces three of its executives being arrested and deported over national security concerns. CMO Olivier Prentout, head of sales and distribution Annie Bilenge Tabura and MFS chief Elsa Muzzolini have all been detained, interrogated and deported back to their respective home countries of France, Rwanda and Italy.

Regarding the arrests, the operator stated: “MTN Uganda, together with all its employees, remains fully committed to operating within, and respecting, the laws of the country.”

These are not the only issues facing MTN in Uganda, with Museveni expressing outrage at the regulator allowing MTN to renew its operating licence for $58 million rather than $100 million after it pledged to meet high-speed internet requirements in line with Uganda’s new national broadband goals. MTN holds an interim licence in Uganda.

Reuters quoted Museveni as saying that MTN has “reaped vast profits, most of which have obviously been repatriated”. The government has voiced suspicions that MTN Uganda underreports its call volume in order to avoid tax.

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