Mmegi Online :: Mascom board resists millionaire founder’s 'comeback' bid
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Last Updated
Monday 25 March 2019, 13:36 pm.
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Mascom board resists millionaire founder’s 'comeback' bid

Zimbabwe-born millionaire and Mascom founder, Strive Masiyiwa, is the “secret” partner MTN is looking at offloading its stake in the local mobile giant to; various highly placed sources told BusinessWeek this week.
By Mbongeni Mguni Fri 08 Mar 2019, 18:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Mascom board resists millionaire founder’s 'comeback' bid








The proposed deal has reportedly displeased sections of the Mascom board, which is dominated by representatives of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).

On Tuesday, a Bloomberg report said MTN’s stake, acquired in 2005 is about 53% and worth up to P3.2 billion. Bloomberg did not report the identity of the proposed purchaser of the shares. Mascom’s shareholding is a complex affair with available information indicating that while the BPOPF holds the majority directly, MTN is in the majority indirectly.

Mascom is one of the pension fund’s most lucrative investments with a value of P1.6 billion in 2015/16. Masiyiwa founded Mascom in 1998, giving it his surname, before gradually selling off his direct and indirect interests. Any remaining interest, if it exists, is reported to be minimal. Bloomberg reported that MTN group CEO, Rob Shuter had previously expressed his desire to see the pan-African giant reduce the number of countries it operates in.

This week, insiders close to the latest development said Masiyiwa’s identity had been revealed at a recent board meeting when MTN directors briefed their BPOPF peers on the plan to divest from Mascom.

“MTN directors recently told the board that they had been approached with a buyout offer by an investor and that they were interested in offloading their shareholding

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to that investor,” an insider told BusinessWeek.

“Masiyiwa apparently wants to come back to significant equity through purchasing MTN’s shares.” Other sources said the BPOPF representatives on the Mascom board had flat out rejected MTN’s proposals pointing out that the pension fund should be given the first right to buy any MTN’s shares on offer.

In addition, directors raised questions about the valuation of the proposed deal and said a due diligence would have to be conducted before any disposal process began.

“The pension fund is well capable of making an offer for those shares and if they cannot, they could find partners,” said the source.

“At worse, they could even list those shares to ensure Batswana benefit.

“This company has gained value from Batswana and it will not be fair to allow some other deal to take that value elsewhere.”

Mascom spokesperson, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego referred enquiries to the wireless company’s board, where chairperson, Ishmael Selebogo confirmed the MTN matter.

“The quick answer is that yes, MTN has indicated a potential sale of their shares, but we do not know the details yet,” he said.

Efforts to trace and communicate with Masiyiwa were fruitless by press time. In 2018, Mascom held about 53% of the local mobile phone market’s estimated 3,18 million subscriptions in 2018.

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