Zimbabwe Regulator Cancels VimpelCom Unit’s Mobile License

Telecel Zimbabwe Ltd., a unit of wireless provider VimpelCom Ltd., had its operating license canceled by the southern African country’s regulator and given three months notice to decommission equipment.

The company had been working with the government to resolve a dispute after Information and Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said Telecel hadn’t made license-fee payments and failed to comply with the nation’s black ownership laws. Telecel Zimbabwe, operated by VimpelCom’s Cairo-based unit Global Telecom Holdings SAE, was one of three mobile-phone service providers in the country.

“The Telecel Zimbabwe license has been canceled,” the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe said in a statement handed to reporters in Bulawayo on Wednesday. While the decision is effective April 28, Telecel was granted a 30-day license so customers have time to switch providers.

Telecel said it would challenge the decision both locally and at an international level. The company may appeal to Mandiwanzira, the regulator said.

“This measure is unfair and unwarranted,” Telecel said in a statement. The company “has made every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms.”

VimpelCom will comment later on Wednesday, spokesman Artem Minaev said by phone from Amsterdam, where the company is based.

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