The Tunisie Telecom sales booth at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. Lindsay Mackenzie
The Tunisie Telecom sales booth at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. Lindsay Mackenzie

Dubai Holding unit battles to restore Tunisie Telecom IPO



A Dubai Holding unit is battling to reinstate an initial public offering of Tunisie Telecom, in which it bought a US$2.25 billion (Dh8.26bn) stake in 2006.

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Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), an investment company that holds a 35 per cent stake in the Tunisian telecoms company, says a planned share sale was cancelled without its approval.

EIT wants the initial public offering (IPO) to be reinstated but is being opposed by Tunisia's new government, as well as a local union.

Tunisie Telecom has been subjected to large-scale strikes in the fallout of the January uprising that toppled the country's president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) is demanding the sale be abandoned permanently. The union also objects to the employment of about 60 of the company's 8,500 staff, whose salaries it claims are inflated and violate labour regulations.

EIT has denied union allegations that these contractual employees are overpaid, and is calling for the reinstatement of the IPO to allow Tunisie Telecom to grow.

It planned to list a 20 per cent stake on the Tunis and Paris stock exchanges in what would have been the first offering by a Tunisian company on a European bourse. Under the proposed IPO, 10 per cent of shares offered would come from the government's 65 per cent stake, and 10 per cent from EIT's holding.

But UGTT opposes any moves that could lead to the privatisation of the company and possible job losses that could follow. The union told The National that, were Tunisie Telecom to be privatised, extensive layoffs would follow.

The IPO was initially suspended because of the political situation in Tunisia, and protests over what was perceived as a privatisation of the company.

But in a meeting of company, government and union officials held on February 9, it was decided the IPO, along with "all privatisation initiatives", would be permanently cancelled. At the meeting there was also a call for a freeze of the employment of staff whose "salaries are higher than normal ones under [Tunisie Telecom] regulations", according to the minutes.

Raouf Chekir, the former chief executive of Tunisie Telecom, signed the minutes of the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the telecoms ministry, the social affairs ministry and the UGTT. EIT, which holds four of the 12 board seats, said Mr Chekir had no right to sign the minutes of the meeting, to which representatives of the Dubai investment company had not been invited.

EIT is part of Dubai Holding, the conglomerate owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Deepak Padmanabhan, the chief executive of EIT, said Mr Chekir did not have the authority to sign such a document. EIT acknowledged that Mr Chekir later retracted his approval of the document.

"In order for such a resolution to be valid it would need to be approved by a qualified majority of the board of directors consisting of representatives from the state of Tunisia and EIT," Mr Padmanabhan said.

"Tunisie Telecom has a clear corporate governance framework and decisions taken outside of this framework should not be considered legal or valid," Mr Padmanabhan added.

Mr Chekir, who assumed the office of chief executive on February 2, stepped down soon after signing the minutes of the meeting, although he retains his board position at Tunisie Telecom.

He told The Nationalhe wanted to suspend the IPO process temporarily but the unions demanded it should be scrapped. Mr Chekir said the document he signed did not constitute an agreement to cancel the IPO.

"The meeting lasted 12 hours and was in a stalemate," he said. "In the end the ministry accepted that the IPO process would be abandoned.

"I signed the minutes of the meeting because I was present at the meeting, but it was not an agreement.

"The next day I wrote to the minister explaining that the agreement between the government and the unions was not applicable to Tunisie Telecom and for Tunisie Telecom is null and void."

Mr Chekir added he resigned as chief executive after refusing a request from the secretary of state to sack the 60 higher-paid employees.

But the union disputes EIT's argument that the February 9 "agreement" is invalid because Tunisie Telecom board members were not consulted.

"We've always made agreements like this. We don't need to bring our demands to Tunisie Telecom's strategic partner, we bring them to the Tunisian state," said Mohamed Mongi Ben M'Barek, the secretary general of the General Federation of Post and Telecommunications, a branch of the UGTT.

Mr Ben M'Barek said the union considered Tunisie Telecom to be fundamentally a public company.

"We regard selling even a minority of shares on the public bourse as a step toward full privatisation," he said.

tashby@thenational.ae

Fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit

As he spoke, Mr Aboul Gheit repeatedly referred to the need to tackle issues affecting the welfare of people across the region both in terms of preventing conflict and in pushing development.
Lebanon is scheduled to host the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in January that will see regional leaders gather to tackle the challenges facing the Middle East. The last such summit was held in 2013. Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki told The National that the Beirut Summit “will be an opportunity for Arab leaders to discuss solely economic and social issues, the conference will not focus on political concerns such as Palestine, Syria or Libya". He added that its slogan will be “the individual is at the heart of development”, adding that it will focus on all elements of human capital.

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Traits of Chinese zodiac animals

Tiger:independent, successful, volatile
Rat:witty, creative, charming
Ox:diligent, perseverent, conservative
Rabbit:gracious, considerate, sensitive
Dragon:prosperous, brave, rash
Snake:calm, thoughtful, stubborn
Horse:faithful, energetic, carefree
Sheep:easy-going, peacemaker, curious
Monkey:family-orientated, clever, playful
Rooster:honest, confident, pompous
Dog:loyal, kind, perfectionist
Boar:loving, tolerant, indulgent  

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

'Operation Mincemeat'

Director: John Madden

Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfayden, Kelly Macdonald and Penelope Wilton

Rating: 4/5

MATCH INFO

Juventus 1 (Dybala 45')

Lazio 3 (Alberto 16', Lulic 73', Cataldi 90+4')

Red card: Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

‘FSO Safer’ - a ticking bomb

The Safer has been moored off the Yemeni coast of Ras Issa since 1988.
The Houthis have been blockading UN efforts to inspect and maintain the vessel since 2015, when the war between the group and the Yemen government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition began.
Since then, a handful of people acting as a skeleton crew, have performed rudimentary maintenance work to keep the Safer intact.
The Safer is connected to a pipeline from the oil-rich city of Marib, and was once a hub for the storage and export of crude oil.

The Safer’s environmental and humanitarian impact may extend well beyond Yemen, experts believe, into the surrounding waters of Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Eritrea, impacting marine-life and vital infrastructure like desalination plans and fishing ports. 

How Tesla’s price correction has hit fund managers

Investing in disruptive technology can be a bumpy ride, as investors in Tesla were reminded on Friday, when its stock dropped 7.5 per cent in early trading to $575.

It recovered slightly but still ended the week 15 per cent lower and is down a third from its all-time high of $883 on January 26. The electric car maker’s market cap fell from $834 billion to about $567bn in that time, a drop of an astonishing $267bn, and a blow for those who bought Tesla stock late.

The collapse also hit fund managers that have gone big on Tesla, notably the UK-based Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF.

Tesla is the top holding in both funds, making up a hefty 10 per cent of total assets under management. Both funds have fallen by a quarter in the past month.

Matt Weller, global head of market research at GAIN Capital, recently warned that Tesla founder Elon Musk had “flown a bit too close to the sun”, after getting carried away by investing $1.5bn of the company’s money in Bitcoin.

He also predicted Tesla’s sales could struggle as traditional auto manufacturers ramp up electric car production, destroying its first mover advantage.

AJ Bell’s Russ Mould warns that many investors buy tech stocks when earnings forecasts are rising, almost regardless of valuation. “When it works, it really works. But when it goes wrong, elevated valuations leave little or no downside protection.”

A Tesla correction was probably baked in after last year’s astonishing share price surge, and many investors will see this as an opportunity to load up at a reduced price.

Dramatic swings are to be expected when investing in disruptive technology, as Ms Wood at ARK makes clear.

Every week, she sends subscribers a commentary listing “stocks in our strategies that have appreciated or dropped more than 15 per cent in a day” during the week.

Her latest commentary, issued on Friday, showed seven stocks displaying extreme volatility, led by ExOne, a leader in binder jetting 3D printing technology. It jumped 24 per cent, boosted by news that fellow 3D printing specialist Stratasys had beaten fourth-quarter revenues and earnings expectations, seen as good news for the sector.

By contrast, computational drug and material discovery company Schrödinger fell 27 per cent after quarterly and full-year results showed its core software sales and drug development pipeline slowing.

Despite that setback, Ms Wood remains positive, arguing that its “medicinal chemistry platform offers a powerful and unique view into chemical space”.

In her weekly video view, she remains bullish, stating that: “We are on the right side of change, and disruptive innovation is going to deliver exponential growth trajectories for many of our companies, in fact, most of them.”

Ms Wood remains committed to Tesla as she expects global electric car sales to compound at an average annual rate of 82 per cent for the next five years.

She said these are so “enormous that some people find them unbelievable”, and argues that this scepticism, especially among institutional investors, “festers” and creates a great opportunity for ARK.

Only you can decide whether you are a believer or a festering sceptic. If it’s the former, then buckle up.

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Results

5pm: Reem Island – Conditions (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m; Winner: Farasah, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Musabah Al Muhairi

5.30pm: Sir Baniyas Island – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: SSR Ghazwan, Antonio Fresu, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Astral Del Sol, Sean Kirrane, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6.30pm: Al Maryah Island – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m; Winner: Toumadher, Dane O’Neill, Jaber Bittar

7pm: Yas Island – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m; Winner: AF Mukhrej, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7.30pm: Saadiyat Island – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 2,400m; Winner: Celestial Spheres, Gary Sanchez, Ismail Mohammed

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The biog

Family: Parents and four sisters

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing at American University of Sharjah

A self-confessed foodie, she enjoys trying out new cuisines, her current favourite is the poke superfood bowls

Likes reading: autobiographies and fiction

Favourite holiday destination: Italy

Posts information about challenges, events, runs in other emirates on the group's Instagram account @Anagowrunning

Has created a database of Emirati and GCC sportspeople on Instagram @abeermk, highlight: Athletes

Apart from training, also talks to women about nutrition, healthy lifestyle, diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The specs: 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

Price, base / as tested Dh57,000

Engine 1,170cc air/oil-cooled flat twin four-stroke engine

Transmission Six-speed gearbox

Power 110hp) @ 7,750rpm

Torque 116Nm @ 6,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 5.3L / 100km

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

While you're here

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Afro salons

For women:
Sisu Hair Salon, Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Boho Salon, Al Barsha South, Dubai
Moonlight, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
For men:
MK Barbershop, Dar Al Wasl Mall, Dubai
Regency Saloon, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi
Uptown Barbershop, Al Nasseriya, Sharjah

Courses at Istituto Marangoni, Dubai

Undergraduate courses
Interior Design; Product Design; Visual Design; Fashion Design & Accessories; Fashion Styling & Creative Direction; Fashion Business; Foundation in Fashion; Foundation in Design
Professional courses
Fashion e-Commerce & Digital Marketing; Fashion Entrepreneurship; Fashion Luxury Retail and Visual Merchandising
Short courses
Fashion design; Fashion Image & Styling; Fashion Trend Forecasting; Interior Design; Digital Art in Fashion
More information is at www.istitutomarangoni.com