Moroccan telecoms operator Inwi, an affiliate of Zain Group, has ruled itself out of bidding for Mauritanian telco Mattel, leaving Bharti Airtel, MTN Group and Orange Group as the likely frontrunners to acquire Tunisie Telecom’s (TT’s) its 51% stake in the company. Earlier this month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that BNP Paribas is forging ahead with the hunt for a buyer for Mattel, working on behalf of its client TT. At the time, unnamed sources suggested that the Mattel sale process is very much alive, although it is claimed that Emirates International Telecommunications’ (EIT’s) decision to offload its 35% stake in TT – a transaction that is proving anything but smooth – is hampering efforts to find a buyer for Mattel. BNP Paribas has been pitching Mattel to the likes Bharti, MTN and Orange. The financial firm could also look to facilitate the sale of 100% of Mattel, as local minority shareholders own 49% of the telco and have hired Goldstone Capital to advise them on a prospective deal. However, while both TT and the minority shareholders are keen to secure a deal, they stress it must be at the right price. The valuation of Mattel is something of a grey area, although one source says it is likely to be in the region of USD200 million. The Mauritanian subsidiary was established on 11 May 2000 and is currently the third largest operator in terms of mobile subscribers, behind Mauritel and Chinguitel, a subsidiary of Sudatel.
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