Masiyiwa struggles to offload Liquid assets amid Covid

Masiyiwa struggles to offload Liquid Telecom assets amid Covid-19

10 August 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s richest man and founder & chairman of Econet is reportedly struggling to sell a stake in Liquid Telecom due to the effects of Covid-19.

According to Bloomberg, Econet, Liquid’s parent company has been attempting to sell between 20% to 34% of the telco for a reported $600 million.

Citing those close to the matter, Bloomberg says that the funds will be used to pay a $375-million loan to Public Investment Corp (PIC).

PIC is supposedly demanding that the loan be repaid by the end of August, following a extension its granted at earlier this year. The funds were used to launch a pay-TV business that was unsuccessful due to ‘economic woes’ in Zimbabwe as well as ‘currency shortages’ which meant the company was unable to pay its suppliers.

Masiyiwa used shares in Liquid as security against the loan, but would rather sell some of its 66% stake in Liquid than giving PIC the shares at a discounted rate.

Masiyiwa instructed Goldman Sachs Group to sell the shares but talks soon fell apart when the Coronavirus pandemic hit in March causing much global economic instability and buyers calling for more time to assess the situation.

In related news, at the start of the year, Masiyiwa’s Econet confirmed in a statement that it is “actively developing interests” in Ethiopia, which experienced several extended internet outages in 2019.