22 March 2006

The Web
Business Today

Tecom active in Tunisia and UAE telco markets

The company from Dubai currently negotiating with government the possibility of transforming the Ricasoli Industrial Estate into a hi-tech internet city has been short listed as one of three companies bidding for a 35 per cent stake in Tunisie Telecom.
Tecom Investments is also involved through a subsidiary company with a 25 per cent stake in the new telecommunications operator in the United Arab Emirates, which will be trading under the brand name du.
Tecom Investments is competing alongside France Telecom and Vivendi for the stake in the Tunisian telecoms company.
Apart from the likely investment into SmartCity at Ricasoli, Tecom Investments is also in negotiations with government over the sale of the latter’s 60 per cent shareholding in Maltacom.
OgerTelecom of Saudi Arabia, also bidding for Maltacom’s shareholding, dropped out of the Tunisian bid.
Tecom’s activity on the market is a sure sign that the company has a lot of liquidity in hand and the Tunisian venture could be used as a leverage during its multi-faceted negotiations with the Maltese government.
The heads of agreement with the Maltese government over SmartCity is expected to be signed some time next week.
But the announcement last week that government has reached a double taxation agreement with the United Arab Emirates is considered by industry observers as a sure sign that government is expecting the amount of trade between Malta and the UAE to increase. Observers say the double taxation arrangement could have been agreed in anticipation of a major breakthrough with Tecom Investments over the SmartCity bid and possibly the Maltacom privatisation.
Officially the SmartCity bid and the Maltacom privatisation are two separate negotiations despite the common presence of Tecom Investments.

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