The coronavirus pandemic is hampering efforts by Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to sell a stake in Africa’s largest fiber company.
Masiyiwa is seeking buyers for 20% to 34% of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. for as much as $600 million, according to four people with direct knowledge of the matter. He needs the money to repay a $375-million loan that was backed by Public Investment Corp., the continent’s largest money manager, they said.
The PIC, which oversees the equivalent of $135 billion mainly on behalf of South African government workers, is demanding the issue be resolved by the end of August after granting an extension on the payment earlier this year, the people said. The loan it backed was used to fund a pay-TV venture, which failed last year because Zimbabwe’s economic woes and currency shortages meant the company couldn’t pay suppliers.
The 59-year-old tycoon had pledged shares in Liquid Telecom to the PIC as security for the loan, which had been taken out with Deutsche Bank AG. Masiyiwa was planning to repay the debt from the proceeds of an initial public offering in Liquid Telecom, which was scrapped because of volatile equity markets, the people said.