UPDATE 1-Egypt's Orascom Telecom renews Zimbabwean mobile licence

Wed Aug 7, 2013 7:28am EDT

CAIRO Aug 7 (Reuters) - Egypt's Orascom Telecom said on Wednesday its majority-owned Zimbabwean subsidiary had renewed its mobile operating licence for 20 years but had yet to comply with a demand that it cut its stake in the business to 40 percent.

Telecel Zimbabwe paid $137.5 million for the licence, Orascom said in an emailed statement, the same amount the country's other two mobile companies had been asked to pay.

In May Zimbabwe's government had threatened not to renew the licence until Orascom lowered its 60 percent stake by turning over Telecel shares to local ownership, state media said at the time.

"At the moment the shareholder structure remains unchanged. But we are committed to complying with the structure prescribed by the Zimbabwe government," an Orascom official said by telephone.

The government has demanded that a majority of the company, Zimbabwe's second-largest mobile operator, be owned by black Zimbabweans, the state-owned Herald had reported.

The earlier 15-year licence issued to Telecel, which has 2.6 million subscribers, expired in June.

Orascom Telecom itself is controlled by Russian international telecoms group Vimpelcom, which currently owns 51.9 percent of the company. Orascom's shares were trading 1.7 percent lower in Cairo at 4.55 Egyptian pounds at 1121 GMT.

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