Egypt has again delayed plans to offer shares in its national telecommunications firm, Telecom Egypt, on local and world markets, Communications Minister Ahmed al-Nazif said in remarks published Friday.
Nazif said the only reason for the delay was the "unripe" state of global markets, adding that the government was committed to go ahead with the initial public offering (IPO) "when the time is right."
The government announced in September that at least 20 percent of the company's shares would be offered in late October and said it was expected to bring Egypt between 1.2 and 1.4 billion dollars.
Nazif said the company would continue a financial and administrative restructuring in the meantime.
The IPO, which has been delayed repeatedly, had previously been set for June but it never materialized.
Telecom's assets are estimated at between 17 billion Egyptian pounds (five billion dollars) and 19.5 billion pounds (5.7 billion dollars), according to independent evaluations.
Economy Minister Yussef Boutros-Ghali said earlier this year that the company was growing at 20 percent a year.
Telecom Egypt has a monopoly over fixed local and international lines, but two private companies -- MobiNil and Click -- are competing in the mobile telephone market.
The government agreed last month that Telecom Egypt would start offering a mobile phone service from December 2002 – CAIRO (AFP)
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