HomeNewsTunisia to sell its stake in Tunisiana mobile business

Tunisia to sell its stake in Tunisiana mobile business

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TUNIS – Tunisia’s government is to auction off its 25 percent share in the Tunisiana mobile phone business, which is majority owned by Kuwaiti telecoms operator Wataniya.

Offers must come only from financial companies and investment funds by November 2, Slim Besbess, a director at Tunisia’s finance ministry, told a press conference on Thursday.

“We will sell 25 percent of the share capital of Tunisiana,” he said. “Only financial companies and investment funds can participate in this tender … Investors cannot be operators of telecommunications networks or shareholders in a telecommunications network operator.”

Wataniya, itself majority owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel), holds 75 percent of Tunisiana. The other 25 percent was previously owned by Princesse Holding, a conglomerate controlled by Sakher Materi, the son-in-law of the Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a popular revolution last year. Materi’s 25-percent holding was confiscated by the new Tunisian government after the revolution.

Tunisiana is the only private telecoms company in the North African country of 10 million people. Its ultimate parent Qtel had planned to float the business on the Tunis stock exchange in the first half of 2011 but the plans were delayed after the uprising disrupted the investment climate.

In May, Tunisiana won a $135 million licence to launch and operate a third-generation mobile network and a fixed-line in the North African country.

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