16 January 2019

Tanzania: The Nitty-Gritty Behind Airtel Shares Deal

Dar es Salaam — The government revealed yesterday that the negotiation, which brought its shares in Airtel Tanzania to 49 per cent from 40 per cent, was not a walk in the park as Bharti Airtel stood its ground against the demands brought forward by Tanzanian negotiators.

The India-based telecoms conglomerate and the government have locked horns in eight-month negotiations over the issue of the former's shareholding since March 2018.

The negotiations started after the government claimed full ownership of Airtel Tanzania Limited in November 2017.

President John Magufuli called the deal between the two parties as "remarkable fruits" saying the commitment offered by Bhart Airtel echoed "the kind of investment that Tanzania wants."

The Head of State was speaking during the signing of the agreements which took place at State House yesterday.

The minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, who led the team of Tanzanian negotiators, told the President at the function that the negotiations were highly demanding and he and his colleagues were happy that they were concluded positively.

He commended the founder and executive chairman of Bharti Airtel Limited, Mr Sunil Mittal, for his great understanding of the realities and his readiness to appreciate them.

Prof Kabudi said the deal would see the country opening a new chapter into how it benefits from investmens. The first agreement involves the raising of government shares in the Airtel Tanzania to 49 per cent from 40 per cent, while those of Bhart Airtel will come down to 51 per cent from 60 per cent.

"It is worth noting that the government will not incur any cost in relation to the nine per cent increase," pointed out Prof Kabudi.

The other agreement is that the Board of Directors of Airtel Tanzania will be composed of seven members, whereby Bhart Airtel will be represented by four and the government by three members.

It was also agreed that the government will be appointing the chairperson of the board from among its three members.

On the management of Airtel Tanzania, it's been agreed that in the three top managerial positions of chief executive officer, chief technical officer and chief financial officer, the position of the chief technical officer will be filled by a Tanzanian.

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