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Oman considers 30% Omantel sale

Finance ministry reveals plans to sell stake in telecom to an unnamed long-term investor by September.

Oman is considering the sale of up to 30% of Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) to a long-term investor by September, a government official said on Tuesday.

"We are going to appoint a financial advisor this month to advise us which strategic partner to sell shares to," Darwish Al-Balushi, secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance, told newswire Reuters.

"We are looking into selling between 20 to 30%," he said, adding that the government hoped to choose a long-term investor by summer this year.

The government holds 70% of Omantel and the rest is traded on the Omani bourse.

Balushi said the sale would be to a long-term investor and not to the public.

Asked if Oman had spoken to Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat) about the stake sale, Balushi said: "We are not talking to Etislatat or anybody. We are letting the financial advisor to do it for us".

Omantel posted its second-biggest profit ever in the fourth quarter of 2007, beating analysts' forecasts, after a cut in government royalties helped curb costs.

Net income in the three months to December 31 surged almost 47% to 29.43 million rials ($76.5 million).

In October, the government cut the royalties Omantel and rival Nawras pay on mobile telephones to 7% from 12% and on fixed-line to 10%. (Reuters)