India's Bharti Airtel to give Tanzania bigger stake in local telecoms firm
(Adds Airtel comments)
* Government stake rises to 49 pct
* Bharti Airtel retains 51 pct of unit
* Move aims to resolve ownership dispute
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala and Omar Mohammed
DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 11 (Reuters) - India's Bharti Airtel
has agreed to give part of its stake in Airtel
Tanzania to the government, raising the East African nation's
holding in the mobile phone operator to 49 percent from 40
percent, the president's office said on Friday.
The announcement followed talks in Dar es Salaam between
President John Magufuli and Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal
to resolve a dispute over ownership of the Tanzanian mobile
"We have in principle agreed to move forward with a new
arrangement of shareholding of 51:49 -- where Airtel will now
drop from 60 percent to 51 percent and the people of Tanzania
through the ownership of the government of Tanzania will own 49
percent," Mittal said.
The value of the share transfer deal was not provided.
Magufuli had said in 2017 that state-run Tanzania
Telecommunications Company Ltd (TTCL) owned the local subsidiary
of Bharti Airtel outright but had been cheated out of shares.
Bharti Airtel had disputed this, saying it received all the
required approvals from the state when it bought a 60 percent
stake and had complied with all government rules.
Mittal said on Friday that Tanzania wanted to increase its
"Such negotiations do take some time. We are glad that we
have come to a point where we will be making some final
decisions," Mittal said.
Magufuli said in Friday's statement that, in addition to
giving the government more shares, Bharti Airtel had agreed to
pay dividends to the state.
"It's great that they have agreed to give dividends to the
government, which for eight to 10 years we had not received. The
percentage of dividends is still under discussion," the
Magufuli's ownership claim over the Tanzanian mobile company
had rattled foreign investors, who were already unnerved by his
government's crackdown on mining firms operating in the East
Other mobile phone operators in Tanzania include Vodacom
Tanzania, part of South Africa's Vodacom,
Tigo Tanzania, which is part of Sweden's Millicom and Halotel,
owned by Vietnam-based telecoms operator Viettel.
In 2016, the president ordered telecoms companies to list at
least a quarter of their units on Tanzania's stock exchange to
increase domestic ownership.
(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala in Dar es Salaam and Omar
Mohammed in Nairobi; Editing by Edmund Blair and Louise Heavens)
First Published: 2019-01-11 13:58:01
Updated 2019-01-11 14:47:41
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