By Loni Prinsloo
JOHANNESBURG – The coronavirus pandemic is hampering efforts by Zimbabwean billionaire Try Masiyiwa to promote a stake in Africa’s largest fiber firm.
Masiyiwa is searching for consumers for 20% to 34% of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. for as a lot as $600 million, in response to 4 folks with direct information of the matter. He wants the cash to repay a $375-million mortgage that was backed by Public Funding Corp., the continent’s largest cash supervisor, they stated.
The PIC, which oversees the equal of $135 billion primarily on behalf of South African authorities employees, is demanding the difficulty be resolved by the tip of August after granting an extension on the fee earlier this yr, the folks stated. The mortgage it backed was used to fund a pay-TV enterprise, which failed final yr as a result of Zimbabwe’s financial woes and forex shortages meant the corporate couldn’t pay suppliers.
The 59-year-old tycoon had pledged shares in Liquid Telecom to the PIC as safety for the mortgage, which had been taken out with Deutsche Financial institution AG. Masiyiwa was planning to repay the debt from the proceeds of an preliminary public providing in Liquid Telecom, which was scrapped due to unstable fairness markets, the folks stated.
The founding father of Econet World Ltd., which has pursuits in mobile-phone community operators and digital-banking operations throughout the continent, would moderately promote a part of his 66% stake in Liquid Telecom to keep away from surrendering shares within the firm at a reduction to the PIC, one of many folks stated.
Masiyiwa employed Goldman Sachs Group Inc. earlier this yr to promote the stake, however talks with potential buyers began unraveling after the Covid-19 outbreak intensified in March, the folks stated. Patrons wished extra time to evaluate the financial fallout of lockdowns to include the virus on Africa’s economies, they stated.
Representatives for the PIC, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Financial institution and Econet declined to remark.
Liquid Telecom operates in 13 international locations in East, Central and southern Africa with knowledge facilities in Johannesburg, Cape City and Nairobi. It additionally affords cloud-based companies from Microsoft Corp., in response to its web site. U.Okay. improvement finance establishment CDC Group Plc in December 2018 purchased nearly 10% of Liquid Telecom for $180 million.