Tunisian government set to become majority shareholder in Orange?

Less than a year after its launch, Orange Tunisia may be on the verge of gaining a new majority shareholder in the form of the country’s incoming government. According to a report from Reuters, the 51 per cent stake held by Investec could be seized following a rumoured draft cabinet decree to the effect that all assets of former president Ben Ali and his family be seized.

The Mabrouk Group, owned by the son-in-law of the former president, Marwan Mabrouk, is the owner of these shares through its Investec vehicle. The remaining 49 per cent is owned by France Telecom, which may now be given the option of buying the Investec stake. In 2010, the Tunisian government awarded the country’s first 3G licence to Orange which, according to Reuters, has responded to the rumours with the statement that the company’s priority is to maintain operations.

Orange launched in Tunisia in May 2010 and had 748,000 subscribers at the end of the year, following market leader Orascom with six million users and Tunisie Telecom with 4.3 million, according to Informa.

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