Zimbabwean businessman and billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has revealed that he will take Botswana’s telecoms operator Mascom to the public by Q4 2019. He plans to sell his shares in the company which he founded in 1998 after he completes a USD 300 Mn purchase of MTN’s stake in the company.
According to the founder, listing the company on the Botswana Stock Exchange has always been his intentions for Mascom, but the plans were not able to actualize because of his insignificant shareholding, which fell to 7 percent at a time and now.
In March, MTN disclosed that it would offload its 53 percent in Mascom, following a failure to gain management or branding control over the company. If the Zimbabwean can complete the deal, he would have more financial control over Mascom.
Although, Masiyiwa would also have to find a way to quell the resistance from the 40 percent shareholder in Mascom, which is Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), the Southwestern African country’s largest pension fund.
Nonetheless, Masiyiwa is confident that the deal with MTN will go through, a development that will value Mascom at more than USD 600 Mn. Mascom, which the tycoon founded just a little while after launching Econet, hold more than 50 percent in share of the Botswana mobile phone market, with over 1.7 million subscriptions.
If Mascom eventually becomes publicly traded, it would mean a significant boost for the Botswana Stock Exchange which is reported to have 36 counters currently.
“I’m paying them $300 million, which means they have done very well, as they originally paid less than $70 million,” Masiyiwa said, ahead of a town hall youth meeting together with Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi in Gaborone on Tuesday. He also reminded about how he had promised to take Mascom public when he started the company more than two decades ago.
“During our initial bid, I told the government of Botswana that my vision was to take the company public once it was profitable. I wanted to achieve something which I did in Zimbabwe, and sell shares to thousands of ordinary people,” he said.
“For the last 21 years, I have been unable to fulfill this promise because my company did not control enough shares. Now I can keep that promise. As soon as we complete the acquisition of the MTN shares, I have already instructed our management to begin a sale process to ordinary Botswana citizens. In what I hope will be the biggest public listing ever undertaken in Botswana, I want to sell shares to anyone who can raise about 100 Pula (about USD 10).”
This development comes at a time when Africa’s telecoms sector is hotting up. Apart from the Airtel-Telkom merger to secure more market share than Kenya’s Safaricom, it was projected earlier in the year that the telecommunications in the continent would experience a USD 10 Bn blast in 2019.
April 5th, United Kingdom’s finance institution CDC revealed that it would hold an 8 percent share in pan African Liquid Telecom, which is yet another establishment founded by Strive Masiyiwa. The company is currently one of the most significant builders of fiber optic cable networks and Data Centers in Africa.