By Soren Billing
Ministry of Finance blames 'unprecedented market volatility and market conditions' for decision.
Oman's Ministry of Finance said on Monday that it has decided to stop the proposed sale of a 25 percent stake in Omantel to a strategic partner as a result of the current conditions in the global capital markets.
"Despite the solid progress we have made with the sale process to date, and the continued strong interest shown by the bidders, the unprecedented market volatility and economic conditions that we are seeing globally has led to the Government taking the prudent decision to stop the sale process," said Darwish Ismail Al-Balushi, secretary general of the Ministry of Finance.
The sale process was launched in July this year.
In the nine months to Sept. 30, Omantel posted a 29.6 percent profit increase to 106.9 million rials ($277.7 million) compared with 82.6 million rials in the corresponding period last year.
Revenue in the same period grew 16.7 percent to 314.5 million rials.
Omantel is the sole fixed line service provider in Oman, with 270,000 subscribers in 2007, and the market leader in mobile communications in the country, with 1.49 million subscribers in the same year, representing a 60 percent market share.
Omantel underwent partial privatisation in 2005 when it was listed on the Muscat Securities Market.
The Government retains a 70 percent stake with the remaining 30 percent publicly listed.