Zimbabwe threatens Egypt's Orascom over local licence

HARARE Fri May 31, 2013 4:45am EDT

HARARE May 31 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will not renew the licence of a unit of Egypt's Orascom Telecom until it turns over a majority of its shares to local shareholders, state media reported on Friday.

Orascom owns 60 percent of Zimbabwe's second-largest mobile company, Telecel, which Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Nicholas Goche said was in breach of its licence requirements, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported.

The 15-year licence issued to Telecel, which has 2.6 million subscribers, expires next month.

Goche said Telecel should meet its licence requirements stipulating that Orascom hold 40 percent, with the majority to be owned by black Zimbabweans, the Herald reported.

"If they don't do that I will not renew their licence. They should meet the conditions they were asked to meet," the newspaper quoted Goche as saying.

Telecel officials declined to comment.

Under a controversial law, Zimbabwe has been forcing foreign firms to hand over majority stakes to local blacks.

Zimbabwe has set 20-year licence fees for the country's three mobile telephony firms at $137.5 million.

The government on Thursday said it had renewed the licence of Econet Wireless, which expires in July. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by David Dolan)

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