Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT) is involved in exclusive talks with investment firm Abraaj Group regarding the sale of its 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom (TT), Tunisie Haut Debit reports. Unconfirmed reports claimed that EIT had agreed a price of around USD700 million for its shares in the telco. Relating to the deal, Abraaj has faced scrutiny from the government, with Minister of Technology and the Digital Economy Maarouf Anwar quoted as saying: ‘The ministry is keen to safeguard the interests of Tunisia and will not accept any partner not corresponding to those interests…Although the state owns 65% of the shares in Tunisie Telecom, it does not have the latitude to refuse a new partner, but it has the right to check its profile.’
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, EIT has been looking to exit the company for more than five years. The Dubai-based company had originally planned to float 10% of TT’s shares on the Tunis and Paris stock exchanges, with the Tunisian state contributing a further 10% stake to sale, but the revolution in early 2011 led to the deal being scrapped. In mid-2013 EIT was given the green light to sell off its entire stake in the company – with the caveat that the buyer be an experienced telecommunications operator – but, despite receiving initial interest from a total of 13 companies, the list of potential bidders narrowed to just three by January 2014 and by March that year all three had withdrawn from the race.