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Cote d'Ivoire Nationalises Three Mobile Networks

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The government of the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) has nationalised three of the country's mobile networks, and plans to merge them into a single operator.

The three mobile networks, Comium, Cafe Mobile and Lap Green were all said to be deeply in arrears on taxes and license fees, and not expected to make good on their debts.

Communications Minister Bruno Kone said that the three networks had missed a May 5th deadline to pay the collective USD155 million that was outstanding.

"We decided to fuse the defaulting companies to make a single entity that we will restructure and seek a financial and technical partner," Kone told journalists. He added that following the restructuring, a 51% stake would be sold to an outside investor, leaving the government as a minority shareholder.

Kone said the plan aimed to reimburse the state for the lost tax revenues while preserving the jobs of the three companies' employees.

India's Bharti Airtel and Nigeria's Globacom are said to have already expressed interest in bidding for the company.

The three nationalised networks had 1.5 million customers, out of a total mobile subscriber base of 23 million in the country.

The country's other mobile network operators are France's Orange, South Africa's MTN and Etisalat's Moov.

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Tags: comium  cafe mobile  lap green  Cote D'Ivoire