Bharti Airtel settles Tanzania ownership row - Mobile World Live

Bharti Airtel settles Tanzania ownership row

11 JUN 2019

Bharti Airtel agreed to pay the Tanzanian government TZS60 billion ($26.1 million) and write-off a $407 million debt as part of a package of measures to resolve a bitter ownership dispute, Bloomberg reported.

The cash payment to the government will be made in monthly installments spread over five years, the company said at a press conference in Tanzania. Airtel added it would pay a “special dividend” of an undisclosed sum to authorities later this year.

Other measures to settle the row include a $1 million donation to development projects in the country and the appointment of Tanzanian nationals to the local operation’s board.

Airtel previously agreed to sell a 9 per cent stake in the unit to the government, adding to its existing minority share. Following the move, the operator’s majority share reduced to 51 per cent.

The latest concessions apparently end a long-running dispute over ownership of the unit, which flared-up when authorities threatened to take the whole operation into government ownership at the start of 2018.

Airtel and Tanzania have been sporadically at loggerheads since, with the country raising objections when news emerged of plans for an IPO of Airtel Africa.

Throughout the row Airtel maintained its ownership of a majority stake was completely legal. Tanzania’s claim on the asset was the result of issues predating the company’s purchase of the operation, it argued.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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