A LENGTHY legal battle between businessman Sandile Zungu, Transnet and the government came to an end this week when the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Umthunzi Telecoms Consortium, led by Zungu, had been involved in a dispute with Transnet and the government since 2006 over the sale of Transnet's 80 million MTN shares.

Umthunzi claimed it was chosen as the preferred bidder to buy the government's 5percent stake in the mobile operator following a 2003 tender process.

The shares, which were to be sold to the consortium at R29,51 each, were worth about R2,5billion.

Transnet appointed Deutsche Bank South Africa to sell the shares in March 2006 and they were later sold for R65 each on the open market.

Umthunzi instituted legal action in 2006 against then Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe, who was responsible for Transnet, and Maria Ramos, who is now Absa's chief executive, who was the parastatal's chief executive.

Zungu told Sowetan yesterday that the parties had settled the matter on Tuesday before the scheduled Wednesday court date. He could not say how much the parties had settled on.

"I can't disclose the details of the deal as it is strictly confidential. I am bound by a confidentiality clause which I signed, of which the settlement amount is an integral part.

"All I can say is that this is a happy ending for all the parties concerned. We went to court on Wednesday to withdraw the action because we were happy with the settlement," said Zungu.

"The matter is settled now, it is a thing of the past."