VimpelCom is set to sell its operations in Zimbabwe to a state-owned internet service provider (ISP).

The deal has previously been mooted, with speculation that VimpelCom had found a foreign investor to buy the stake, before such a deal was blocked in order to allow ISP ZARnet into the frame.

Global Telecom Holding, a company 51.9 per cent owned by VimpelCom, is to sell its stake in Telecel International for $40 million. In turn, Telecel owns 60 per cent of Telecel Zimbabwe.

With VimpelCom having been an investor in Zimbabwe for a number of years, $40 million is hardly a handsome price (earlier this year a mobile infrastructure investment total of $237 million since 1998 was claimed). Its operation has also not been without headaches: earlier this year it had its licence suspended, although it subsequently got a reprieve.

The transfer to ZARnet, which is wholly owned by the government through the ICT ministry, will take place “after customary conditions are satisfied”.

VimpelCom has been in the process of disposing of a number of assets owned through Global Telecom Holding, including businesses in Algeria – after a long dispute – Burundi, Central African Republic and Canada.