Brazzaville, Congo: The Republic of the Congo has said it had not been informed of Bharti Airtel Ltd’s $9 billion (Rs40,140 crore) deal to buy Kuwaiti telco Zain’s African assets in what it said was a contravention of Zain’s licence.
Telecom minister Thierry Moungalla said the parties had 30 days to remedy the situation or face sanctions that include fines or ultimately the withdrawal of the local licence.
“This is a clear violation of the law in our country,” Moungalla said, adding that the government “had within its legal arsenal the right to be informed and to give its agreement in principle” to such deals.
A Bharti spokesman in New Delhi declined comment when contacted by ‘Reuters’, as did Zain’s Congo unit.
Congo is at least the second country to object to the deal after Gabon voiced similar complaints on 29 March—something which did not stop the accord being signed two days later.
Bharti is currently in the process of getting regulatory approval for the accord.
Zain is the dominant mobile operator in Congo with an estimated 1.5 million subscribers, Congolese officials said.
Fines could run to 1 percentage point of local turnover, with other sanctions being a reduction in the duration of the operating licence, a suspension or outright withdrawal of the licence.