Bank Muscat is continuing preparations for the sale of government shares in Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel), the Oman Daily Observer reports, quoting Minister for Financial Affairs Darwish bin Ismail al Balushi. Bank Muscat is currently working on the subscription documentation with Omantel and the Capital Market Authority, and determining the conditions and terms of the subscription process. ‘The financial consultant who was appointed in October last year is currently preparing the documentation of subscription for shares, however the consultant gave no date of completion of the task,’ al Balushi said. The state plans to offload 27% of its shares – equivalent to a 19% stake – in the Sultanate’s former monopoly to Omani institutional and individual investors. The government currently has a 70% interest in Omantel, so the sale will reduce state ownership to 51%; 30% of the telco is already publicly owned.
In July 2008 the Omani government announced a plan to sell a 25% stake in Omantel, aimed at boosting the firm’s competitive position, but the sale was later cancelled due to market volatility and economic conditions. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Omantel controls around 60% of the Sultanate’s cellular and broadband markets, but is still virtually unchallenged in the fixed line arena where it accounts for more than 96% of all lines in service.