Three remain in ZAMTEL bid

Three suitors have submitted binding offers to buy majority control of Zambia’s fixed-line phone company, the Zambia Development Agency said Friday.

Indiaa’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. withdrew after further due diligence after the first round of bids were received in late December. That leaves Libya's LAP Greencom Ltd. together with LAP Green Networks, Angola's Unitel and Angola Cables, and Russia's Vimpel Communications (VIP) together with Altimo Holdings still in the running for an up to 75% stake in Zambia Telecommunications Co.

The three bids will now be reviewed and assessed by the ZDA and its advisers, a process that is expected to last about two weeks. From there, the ZDA said it will invite a bidder or bidders to enter negotiations in Lusaka.

“The privatization process has so far gone very well and we are pleased to see such experienced and competitive participants show a continued and increasing interest in Zamtel,” Andrew Chipwende, director general of the ZDA, said.

“All of the bidders are respected telecommunications companies, with considerable experience in emerging markets and any one of the three would make a strong partner for Zamtel,” he added.

The agency said the announcement of the preferred bidder is expected to be made March 29, and negotations will begin shortly thereafter. Details of the bids will remain confidential while the process is ongoing, it said.

The ZDA in mid-September said it was selling Zamtel, which also owns mobile-phone operator Cell-Z and Internet service provider Zamtel Online. The government plans to retain a minimum 25% stake in the company, but has reserved the right to sell this through an initial public offering on the

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