(Updates with quotes, background)
LUSAKA, June 5 (Reuters) - Libya’s LAP Green Networks is to buy 75 percent of Zambian fixed-line phone operator Zamtel for $257 million, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said on Saturday. “LAP Green Networks is exactly the sort of partner we were looking for when we started this process well over a year ago,” he told a news conference to announce the results of the sale of the stake in Zamtel, which has performed poorly despite having a monopoly.
LAP would lay off all Zamtel’s 2,341 staff before rehiring a “significant portion” of the workforce, Musokotwane said.
Angola’s Unitel was the other short-listed bidder.
Opposition politicians and trade unions have criticised the sale, saying Zambians should hold a bigger stake in the company.
Musokotwane said the government would retain a 25 percent holding in the firm and have an active say in its affairs, including two out of seven seats on the board and veto rights over certain decisions.
“What we want ultimately is a successful, sustainable and profitable Zamtel, very different from the Zamtel that we see today,” he said.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula, Writing by Ed Cropley; editing by John Stonestreet)
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