Russia’s Altimo scrapes into race for Zamtel with late bid

The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) has received four bids from foreign companies for a 75 per cent stake in fixed line incumbent Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel). State-held Zamtel also owns mobile operator Cell-Z and Internet service provider Zamtel Online.

Originally eight companies expressed interest, however only India’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Unitel of Angola and Libya-based LAP Greencom submitted offers before the deadline on December 23, 2009. A consortium between Russia’s Vimpelcom and the telecom arm of the Alfa Group, Altimo, sent a bid which reportedly arrived at ZDA’s offices five minutes after the tender closed. ZDA confirmed on January 1 that Altimo’s non-binding offer had been accepted.

The four offers are now being evaluated by the ZDA and Zamtel’s board, with an announcement due on January 11, over which companies will move forward in the privatisation process. A final due diligence will be conducted before a successful bidder is selected.

The other four companies short-listed in the process but which did not submit bids were South Africa’s Telkom, state-owned Indian operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), Portugal Telecom and a consortium between Egypt-based Orascom Telecom and subsidiary Telecel Globe.

Zamtel is the third-placed mobile operator in Zambia, counting around 200,000 subscribers at the beginning of 2009. It competes with Zain and MTN in mobile services.


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