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Tunisian government to auction stake in market leading operator

The government of Tunisia is planning on selling its holding in the country’s market-leading operator through an auction. Financial firms and investment funds have been invited to bid for the government’s 25% stake in Tunisiana, with November 2 set as the deadline for submissions. Operators and operator shareholders are not permitted to submit bids.

The 25% stake was previously held by Princesse Holding, but following the removal of former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after last year’s Arab Spring uprising, the assets were confiscated as the conglomerate group was controlled by his son.

The Kuwaiti group Wataniya owns the remaining 75% of Tunisiana. Wataniya itself is majority owned by Qatar Telecom.

In May this year, Tunisiana bid US$135 million for licence allowing it to launch fixed and 3G networks. It is the largest operator in Tunisia - its 7 million mobile connections give it 53% of the market, beating out Tunisie Telecom’s 4.5 million connections and Orange’s 1.7 million.

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