EIT sale of GO plc to be heard in Tunisian parliament

MPs in the Tunisian parliament will debate whether the company was controversially dumped by Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT)

The commission for administrative reform, good governance, the fight against corruption and control of public funds, will be hearing Tunisian communications minister Anouar Maarouf
The commission for administrative reform, good governance, the fight against corruption and control of public funds, will be hearing Tunisian communications minister Anouar Maarouf

The acquisition of Maltese telecommunications company GO plc by Tunisie Telecom in 2016 is to be debated in the Tunisian parliament, as MPs will debate whether the company was controversially dumped by Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT).

The commission for administrative reform, good governance, the fight against corruption and control of public funds, will be hearing Tunisian communications minister Anouar Maarouf.

“The affair set people talking at the time,” reports Maghreb Confidential about the sale of GO by EIT – which happens to have a 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom and from which it had been considering disengaging for several years.

“Some suspect, therefore, that the Emirati operator, whose representatives at Tunisie Telecom were directly involved in the GO transaction, of having used the 65% state-owned Tunisian operator to rid itself of a company which had become a burden for it. Observers were surprised at the time by Tunisie Telecom's decision to invest in an already saturated Maltese market.”

The 4 March hearing will be chaired by an MP who belongs to the same party as the minister, the Ennahda party. Chairman Monia Brahim plans to invite former Tunisie Telecom chairman and chief executive Nizar Bouguila and former telecommunications minister Noomane Fehri, the latter belonging to the Afek Tounes party which left the government coalition, and has been waging an offensive against Ennahda since then.

GO plc also has a stake in Greek telco Forthnet, which recently saw the four banks that hold a 32.7% stake in it increase it to 36%. The banks are Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Alpha Bank and Attica Bank. They increased their stake after Forthnet issued a number of common nominal convertible bonds.

It remains to be seen how the adjusted shareholding will impact on the banks’ attempt to sell Forthnet. In October 2018, a consortium comprising domestic telcos Wind Hellas and Vodafone submitted a formal offer to acquire the telco, with a rival offer submitted by Antenna Group. While the banks are understood to favour the Wind-Vodafone offer, further negotiations are now likely to be required.

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