A shareholder battle is brewing at Botswana’s largest cellco by subscribers, Mascom Wireless. A USD300 million deal was struck in March for minority shareholder Econet Wireless of Zimbabwe to acquire the 53% stake held by South Africa’s MTN Group. This would give Econet a 60% stake and control of Mascom.
A report from The Patriot, however, says that Mascom’s other owner, Botswana Public Officers’ Pension Fund (BPOPF), is challenging the move, and is prepared to take the matter up with regulators. An unnamed source from BPOPF is quoted as saying this week: ‘We are exercising our right of refusal as the holders of the biggest shareholding in the company after MTN.
We cannot let such a lucrative opportunity for investment to slip through our fingers.’ The source adds that BPOPF’s bid appears to have the support of regulatory authorities.
Econet’s owner Strive Masiyiwa has ties to Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and there have been suggestions, meanwhile, that this political support could help sway the deal in Econet’s favour.
Masiyiwa has said that he will look to offload a stake in Mascom via an initial public offer (IPO) should his bid be successful.