LAP Green Networks (LAP GreenN), a subsidiary of the Libyan Investment Authority’s (LIA’s) Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP), is in talks with Dubai Holding’s Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT) unit to acquire the latter’s 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom (TT), Reuters reports citing three sources aware of the matter. LAP GreenN has begun conducting due diligence and has hired an international investment bank to advise on the potential purchase. Dubai Holding has put its share in the telco up for sale in a bid to cut its debt, but is likely to make a loss on the stake which it bought in 2006 for USD2.25 billion and valued at just USD650 million by J.P. Morgan Chase last month. EIT was given the green light by Tunisia’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (MinCom) to offload the stake in June this year, with the caveat that the buyer be an experienced global telecommunications operator, in the hopes that the new partner would be a valuable addition to TT, particularly in the field of services and technology development.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, EIT has clashed with the Tunisian government and unions over a planned initial public offering (IPO) that was scrapped without EIT’s approval in February 2011, following the ousting of President Ben Ali at the start of the ‘Arab Spring.’ The IPO, which was to feature the sale of a 20% stake in the telco (10% each from the state and EIT), was cancelled over fears that further privatisation might result in lay-offs.