Revealed: Manji owns 99pc of Tigo Tanzania

Wednesday February 22 2017

The headquarters in Dar es Salaam of MIC

The headquarters in Dar es Salaam of MIC Tanzania Limited, which trades as Tigo Tanzania. The firm is at the centre of a shareholding dispute. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE 

By Citizen Reporters @TheCitizenTZ

Dar es Salaam. Lawyers representing a British registered company associated with Mr Yusuf Manji have claimed that the billionaire businessman owns 99 per cent of telecoms company, Tigo.

Brick House Law Associates have sought the stoppage to the planned sale of Tigo shares at the Dar es Salaam Stock Market, terming the move illegal as their client was not consulted.

According to the law firm, Golden Globe International Services is the absolute majority shareholder of MIC Tanzania Limited with 34,479 shares of 34,480 shares. The remaining one share is shown as belonging to Shai Holdings.

Golden Globe is registered in Virgin Islands, a British overseas territory, known internationally as a preferred tax haven for super rich multinational investors.

MIC Tanzania Limited trades in Tanzania as Tigo, the second largest cellular company after Vodacom. Mr Manji’s link to Golden Globe emerged in the Court of Appeal early this month in a case in which Millicom (Tanzania) N.V. is challenging the manner in which the MIC shares were bought.

Mr Manji who has lately been in the news over a drug trafficking and abuse crackdown is locally known to lead Quality Group of companies that is also listed as a party in the court case.

The claimed Tigo shareholding structure is quoted in a letter sent to the Capital Markets and Securities Authority by a Mr Joseph Ndazi of Brick House Law Associates on behalf of Golden Globe.

In the letter dated January 25, Mr Ndazi is seeking a halt to the process to float Tigo shares for sale, warning that the move would be illegal as their client was not involved in preparation of the company and shareholder prospectus that are key to the process.

The letter is copied to nine different authorities in government that are involved in one way or the other in the dispute and in the public share listing. According to Mr Ndazi, his client believes that “MIC Tanzania Board of Directors and Sponsors are trying to sell the public shares which are owned by Golden Globe.”

The government has given an ultimatum to mobile telephone companies to list at the stock market by offering a 25 per cent stake for sale to the public. Vodacom, Tigo and Airtel have both indicated that they were on course with the process.

However, The Citizen has learnt that only Vadacom appear to be proceeding smoothly while Tigo and Airtel have hit rough seas.

Yesterday the Capital Market and Securities Regulatory Authority (CMSA) confirmed to The Citizen that the Tigo Initial Public Offering (IPO) has been suspended pending resolution to the shareholding dispute. Airtel, on the other hand, is still engaging the government as a major shareholder on its role in the planned listing.

CMSA spokesperson Charles Shirima said that because of the case pending in the court, the process of assessing Tigo’s application for stock market listing has been suspended. He declined to comment further to avoid contempt of court accusation.

But speaking separately, the Tigo marketing services manager Olivier Prentout told The Citizen that the company had met conditions for listing and was only waiting CMSA feedback on their prospectus for listing.

“We are through with all procedures necessary for submission of the prospectus. We submitted the document on Monday last week and are waiting for official response,” said Prentout.

According to IPO rules, to be allowed to proceed, a company is required to strike a balance in their shareholding books so that they can change the statuses from being Private Limited Companies to Public Companies.

According to the Golden Globe lawyers, their client is aggrieved that he has not been told on what basis the Tigo prospectus was being prepared.

They argued that even though MIC Tanzania Limited has sought to challenge the shareholding structure in court, earlier orders granting the 99 per cent shareholding of the company to Golden Globe stands.

The letter whose copy was seen by The Citizen claims that Golden Globe bought the 34,479 MIC shares at a public auction in Dar es Salaam on November 5, 2014.

The shares were reportedly put on sale on orders of the high court for the execution of the decree in favour of Mr James Russel Bell of UK. Mr Bell had in 2002 sued Millicom International Cellular S.A. who are the parent company for MIC Tanzania before the said sale of majority shares took place. Mr Bell is said to have been a senior director in the company.

In the current court of appeal case, Millicom International claims the sale of the shares was fraught with irregularities. Reports show the shares were bought for a sum of Sh13 billion.

The court has summoned Mr Bell to the hearing of the dispute through a public notice issued early this month.