In his budget speech delivered yesterday, the Mauritian Finance Minister Ramakrishna Sithanen said the government hopes to raise MUR1.5 billion (USD50 million) from the listing of the nation’s largest telco, Mauritius Telecom (MT). ‘While the fiscal deficit for 2010 is projected at 4.5%, government borrowing requirement will only be 4% of GDP. This is mainly due to the sale proceeds of Mauritius Telecom shares which is expected to raise at least 1.5 billion rupees,’ Reuters quotes the minister as saying. The government sold a 40% stake in its national operator to France Telecom (Orange) in 2000 and retains a 60% stake along with the State Bank of Mauritius.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MT reported post-tax profits of MUR1.9 billion (USD51 million) in 2008, down 5% year-on-year, on the back of increased interest payments, but confirmed its plans to list on the Indian Ocean island’s stock exchange. Full year turnover climbed 6.5% to MUR6.8 billion in 2008, driven by 12% growth at its mobile unit Cellplus Mobile Communications. In May 2008 the government of Mauritius imposed new taxes on local phone firms, including a 5% levy on profits and 1.5% on revenues as part of a wider plan to keep the budget deficit in check. MT had planned to list last year but postponed the event in the wake of the global credit crunch. At the time it stopped short of providing a date for the listing, although its chairman Thomas Appalsamy confirmed it was still on. ‘The company has completed its due diligence exercise and now shareholders are working on the price and the number of shares that will be floated on the Stock Exchange,’ he said in June 2009.