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Jordan Gov’t Sells Telecom Stake

January 23, 2000

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Making good on privatization promises, the government on Sunday sold 40 percent of the lucrative Jordan Telecommunications Co. to an alliance led by France Telecom.

The $508 million deal represents the largest single foreign investment to date in Jordan, where JTC is the sole telecommunications carrier.

The deal gave France Telecom a victory over Britain’s Vodafone and Southern Bell Corp. of the United States, which had been vying for a stake in the telecommunications company.

A government statement said the purchase was made through Jordan Investment Telecommunications Co., a holding company in which France Telecom has an 88 percent stake. The balance belongs to Arab Bank Plc, Jordan’s largest financial institution.

Part of the agreement involves a five-year management contract under which France Telecom will work to improve JTC’s business, develop customer service, transfer technology and assist in introducing new services, according to the statement.

JTC’s earnings in 1999 were $304 million, according to the company’s chairman, Suleiman Hafeth.

The French firm is one of the world’s leading telecommunications carriers with consolidated operating revenues of about $25 billion and operations in more than 50 countries.

The government hesitated for years to sell shares in the telecommunications company because of public concern that such a move would allow foreign domination of this strategic sector. But the Cabinet said in August it had decided to revive plans for a sale.

In November, the government sold 33 percent of the Jordan Cement Factories Co. to French giant Lafarge as part of its privatization drive.

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