Yesterday we received an interesting press release from Telecel. Normally we’d just go over the press release, read between the lines for the newsworthy stuff and give you our take on the issue. Yesterday’s press release is different. For starters it’s not purely a ‘technology’ and business issue. And two, we don’t have enough facts to make a fair assessment and build our own opinion. We couldn’t wait to establish the facts and would like you our readers to know what we know, so we decided to post the Telecel release word for word. Here goes:
Telecel International has submitted to the Government its proposals for reducing its shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe to 49 percent and ensuring broad-based indigenisation of the company, in compliance with Zimbabwe’s laws and regulations.
A letter containing the proposals was submitted to Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche, whose ministry the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe falls under, and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Savior Kasukuwere.
The letter was approved by both of Telecel Zimbabwe’s shareholders, namely Telecel International and the Empowerment Corporation.
Telecel Globe chief executive Kai Uebach, in a statement, pointed out that Telecel International and the Empowerment Corporation are the only shareholders in Telecel Zimbabwe, contrary to claims made in the local Press suggesting that a variety of individuals and groups are Telecel Zimbabwe shareholders.
“The letter sent to the Ministers was approved by both shareholders, namely Telecel International and the Empowerment Corporation.
“There are no other shareholders in Telecel Zimbabwe and there never have been any others, although some people seem intent on misrepresenting themselves as being shareholders,” he said.
Mr Uebach also pointed out that Telecel International, as a foreign shareholder, was only obliged, both in terms of the Indigenisation Act and the licence that Potraz issued to Telecel Zimbabwe in 2002, to reduce its current shareholding of 60 percent to 49 percent.
Recent Press reports have incorrectly claimed that the licence required Telecel International to reduce its shareholding to 40 percent.
Section 12.1.3 of the licence states that “the licensee shall within five (5) years from the date of signing of the licence ensure that the foreign ownership is reduced to forty nine percent (49%)”.
Mr Uebach pointed out that it had not been possible, due to hyperinflation, to reduce its shareholding within the stipulated period through the sale of shares, as nobody in Zimbabwe was able at the time to guarantee international euro or United States dollar loans.
Commenting on claims in a Business Herald report earlier this week that Telecel International had recently announced that it would list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, Mr Uebach said no such announcement had been made.
He had, however, at a briefing for journalists attended by The Herald, said Telecel International was considering various options for reducing its shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe to 49 percent, one of which was the possibility of Telecel Zimbabwe being listed on the local stock exchange.
He said one of the proposals that had been put forward for altering the shareholding so that 51 percent of the shares were held by indigenous Zimbabweans was “a listing of the company by issuing new shares”.
“The intention of issuing new shares, instead of selling existing shares, is to provide the company with fresh capital to expand its network and to allow a broad-based indigenisation, as requested by the government in one of the meetings I had with government representatives,” he said.
“As a listing is a transparent process with an intended special allocation to indigenous people, it would ensure that a broad base of ordinary people can participate in the value creation of Telecel.
“By this process even existing and previous shareholders in the Empowerment Corporation would have the chance of becoming direct shareholders in Telecel Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Uebach added that before presenting this, along with other proposals, to the two government ministers, he had held a meeting with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange chief executive, Mr Emmanuel Munyukwi, in order to learn from him the requirements for a proper and transparent listing.
Mr Uebach also refuted claims in The Business Herald that a 20 percent stake in Telecel Zimbabwe was sold to Telecel International “under unclear circumstances, in violation of the Potraz Act”.
“Telecel International took over the 20 percent stake from the Empowerment Corporation against a significant capital contribution and the guaranteeing of an international debt to allow the Telecel network to be built up in 1999.
“This was approved by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the Ministry responsible for Posts and Telecommunications. Potraz had at that time not yet been established,” he said.
Mr Uebach expressed surprise that so many false and inaccurate statements were being made in some sections of the Press in relation to Telecel, given the company’s willingness to respond to Press enquiries.
“It surprises me that some newspapers continue to publish false information and claims, when it would be so easy to establish the facts by contacting Telecel.
“Telecel has made it clear it is happy to respond to Press enquiries but it would appear that some newspapers prefer to publish incorrect information attributed to anonymous sources rather than to establish and publish the truth,” he said.