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Bharti Airtel to give Tanzania bigger stake in local telecoms firm

Reuters  |  DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 11 

By and Omar Mohammed

DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 11 (Reuters) - India's has agreed to give part of its stake in Airtel to the government, raising the East African nation's holding in the mobile phone operator to 49 percent from 40 percent, the president's office said on Friday.

The announcement followed talks in Dar es between and to resolve a dispute over ownership of the Tanzanian

"We have in principle agreed to move forward with a new arrangement of shareholding of 51:49 -- where Airtel will now drop from 60 percent to 51 percent and the people of through the ownership of the government of will own 49 percent," Mittal said.

The value of the share transfer deal was not provided.

Magufuli had said in 2017 that state-run (TTCL) owned the of outright but had been cheated out of shares.

Bharti Airtel had disputed this, saying it received all the required approvals from the state when it bought a 60 percent stake and had complied with all government rules.

Mittal said on Friday that Tanzania wanted to increase its shareholding.

"Such negotiations do take some time. We are glad that we have come to a point where we will be making some final decisions," Mittal said.

Magufuli said in Friday's statement that, in addition to giving the government more shares, Bharti Airtel had agreed to pay dividends to the state.

"It's great that they have agreed to give dividends to the government, which for eight to 10 years we had not received. The percentage of dividends is still under discussion," the said.

Magufuli's ownership claim over the Tanzanian mobile company had rattled foreign investors, who were already unnerved by his government's crackdown on firms operating in the East African nation.

Other in Tanzania include Tanzania, part of South Africa's Vodacom, Tigo Tanzania, which is part of Sweden's and Halotel, owned by Vietnam-based

In 2016, the ordered telecoms companies to list at least a quarter of their units on Tanzania's stock exchange to increase domestic ownership.

(Reporting by in Dar es and in Nairobi; Editing by and Louise Heavens)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 20:06 IST
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