Tunisian government to sell Tunisiana stake

Tunisia’s government has reportedly announced an auction to sell its 25% stake in mobile operator Tunisiana.

Reuters reports that offers are only being invited from financial companies and investment funds, with a deadline of November 2.

The 25% stake in the company was previously owned by a conglomerate headed by the son in law of ousted Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Sakher Materi’s holding was confiscated by the Tunisian government after the Arab Spring revolution in the country.

Qtel, which holds the other 75% of Tunisiana through Wataniya Telecom, had planned to float the business on Tunisia’s stock exchange but these plans were delayed because of the impact that uprising had on investment in the country.

Tunisiana reportedly launched 3G services this week, according to online publication CommsMEA. The network covers approximately 48% of the country’s population with coverage to be extended to 71% of the population by the end of the year, and 87% by early 2013.

The launch makes Tunisiana the third operator to launch mobile broadband services in the country behind Orange and Tunicell.