India’s Bharti Airtel has agreed to pay 60 billion shillings over five years and cancel the debt to resolve a dispute over ownership of its Airtel Tanzania unit.
Tanzania’s minister for foreign affairs and East African Cooperation, Palamagamba Kabudi, announced the deal at a ceremony to receive a three-month batch of monthly payments worth 1 billion shillings each due from April this year.
Bharti Airtel also cancelled $407 million of debt owed to it by Airtel Tanzania as part of the settlement, Kabudi said.
In 2017, the Indian company was drawn into a dispute with Dar es Salaam over ownership of the mobile operator after President John Magufuli said it was fully owned by state-run Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd (TTCL).
He said TTCL had been cheated out of its shares through an irregular privatization process. Bharti Airtel rejected the claim, saying it had complied with regulatory approvals when it acquired a 60% stake in the firm.
Following prolonged negotiations, the two sides in January signed a settlement that included Bharti Airtel agreement to increase the government’s stake in the company from 40% to 49%.
Bharti Airtel Executive Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal said he hoped the deal would “give a fresh start to the company”.