Bharti Airtel says keen to end row

Saturday January 13 2018

 

By The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTz news@thecitizen.co.tz

Dar es Salaam. Bharti Airtel, the Indian investor that currently hold 60 per cent shares in Airtel Tanzania, has urged the government to share the findings of its probe to enable it “respond with facts from the records of the company” as regards the controversial privatisation of Airtel Tanzania.

In a statement released yesterday, Bharti Airtel said it intends to work closely with the government of Tanzania “…to resolve any doubts or concerns to the satisfaction” of the government and all of the other stakeholders but it would need support and collaboration from the previous shareholders, directors and officers of MSI to be able to provide any necessary facts and a satisfactory explanation.

“Bharti Airtel as a major foreign investor in Tanzania remains committed to the Tanzanian market and will take all steps to protect its businesses, employees, partners, and investments in Airtel Tanzania,” reads part of Bharti Airtel’s in a statement.

On Thursday, Finance and Planning minister Dr Philip Mpango submitted to the government a dossier containing specific findings on the transferring of government shares in Airtel Tanzania from TTCL to MSI Systems International Cellular Investments BV (MSI).

Dr Mpango said the government has opted for negotiations instead of taking the legal route and was happy that Bharti Airtel “has also shown willingness to negotiate.’

The government has claimed that it received peanuts from its investments in the creation of the Airtel Tanzania, then called Celtel that amount to billions of shillings. It hence wants to reclaim its investment in the mobile telephony network provider.

In its statement yesterday, Bharti Airtel claimed that the transferring of shares from TTCL to MSI followed due process, was transparent as it had credible witnesses that included representatives from World Bank and the UK and US governments and that the government was paid the full amount of its due in each step of the privatisaion process.

In 2001 MSI acquired 35 per cent of TTCL and later, out of that partnership, Celtel Tanzania was subsequently established, Bharti Airtel statement said yesterday. The mobile firm was formed using shareholder loans from the state-run firm, which were later converted into equity, the statement added.

“The government of Tanzania and MSI in 2005 agreed to split the two companies and each (government of Tanzania and MSI ) directly came to own 65 per cent and 35 per cent of TTCL and 65 per cent and 35 per cent of Celtel Tanzania,” the statement noted.

“As each was already a shareholder, there was no valuation or consideration required. At the same time, MSI acquired an additional 25 per cent stake in Celtel Tanzania and paid $28 million to the government of Tanzania,” the statement adds.

As of April 2005, MTC of Kuwait became the ultimate 60 per cent shareholder of Celtel Tanzania (they rebranded the company two years later as Zain), the statement continues to say.

Bharti Airtel acquired that stake in 2010 and in 2015 the government of Tanzania became 100 per cent owner of TTCL by purchasing the remaining 35 per cent,” the statement adds.

“In each instance, the transactions were initiated by the government of Tanzania and conducted with full transparency and all the required approvals and submissions were completed in full compliance,” the statement notes.

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