UAE-based telecoms group Etisalat is ‘interested’ in purchasing a stake in Beninese state-backed mobile operator Libercom, according to ‘a source familiar with the matter’ quoted by Agence Ecofin. The unnamed source added that Etisalat could be ready to make a bid for Libercom sometime in the second quarter of this year – after the completion of the group’s pending takeover of Morocco’s Maroc Telecom. In a statement issued on 20 February 2014, the Republic of Benin’s government announced its decision to privatise an 80% stake in Libercom, the wholly-owned mobile subsidiary of state-owned incumbent fixed line operator Benin Telecoms. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Etisalat is already the owner of Benin’s second largest cellco by subscribers, Moov Benin, which launched commercial 3G UMTS services at the end of January 2014 (the second in the republic to do so after market Leader MTN). GlobalComms adds that France’s Orange Group was previously thought to be the most likely purchaser of Libercom – having held stop-start negotiations over a possible takeover of Benin Telecoms.
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