Mozambican communications minister Paulo Zucula has confirmed that the government has ruled out the possibility of selling shares in mCel, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, bringing to an end two years of speculation over the cellco’s future. Speaking to local newspaper O Pais, Zucula said he hoped to dissuade interested parties, such as long-term suitor Portugal Telecom (PT), from pursuing its interest in mCel. Instead, Zucula has urged companies interested in entering the local wireless sector to submit plans to set up a new venture. The minister’s encouragement is likely to please PT; the Portuguese telecoms giant was overlooked for Mozambique’s third mobile concession in November 2010, when its bid of USD25 million ranked third in the tender, with PT bidding USD4 million less than eventual winner Movitel, a unit of Vietnamese military-backed telco Viettel. In other news, Zucula admitted that mCel is currently struggling with internal problems such as embezzlement, but assured O Pais that the company remains profitable.
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