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Mon 18 Aug 2008 11:57 PM

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Oman pre-qualifies eight firms for Omantel stake

Government to short-list four or five firms for 70 percent holding in telecom operator.

Oman said on Monday it would ask eight telecom operators from Europe, Asia and the region to submit initial proposals for a 25-percent stake in Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel).

The firms "will be invited to submit first-round technical and financial proposals" for the stake, the Oman Ministry of Finance said in a statement, without naming the operators.

Oman, which owns 70 percent of Omantel, is selling the stake to help strengthen the telecom firm's market position as competition heightens in the region and telecom companies expand abroad to diversify their revenue streams.

The ministry expects to receive proposals by the second half of September, said Darwish al-Bulushi, secretary-general of the finance ministry and chairman of the steering committee overseeing the stake sale.

A finance ministry official said on Sunday the eight firms included Saudi Telecom Co, Qatar Telecommunications Co and Emirates Telecommunications Corp.

The official said Oman was likely to shortlist four or five bidders to compete for the stake. (Reuters)

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