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[March 21, 2014]
Oman may privatise one more state company [Times of Oman]
(Times of Oman Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Muscat: Oman is likely to privatise one more state company this year, after offering a minority stake in telecommunications operator Omantel, Minister for Financial Affairs Darwish Al Balushi said here on Thursday.
"After we are done with Omantel's IPO (initial public offering)... the next state-owned company to be privatised will be announced," Balushi said after meeting his Qatari counterpart, Ali Sherif Al Emadi.
"We are looking at privatising a number of companies." Balushi said the oil and gas sector was not included. But he said Qatar might be interested in investing in hydrocarbons, as well as in tourism.
Widening fiscal deficits Oman's government, has said it would revive its privatisation programme to raise revenue and stimulate the private sector.
The government owns more than 60 companies across various sectors, the minister said in September.
Omantel said earlier this week the first part of the government's sale of a 19 per cent stake was 1.99 times subscribed.
The sale is expected to raise around $570 million for the Sultanate, which is trying to increase its non-oil income and fund rising public spending.
Balushi also said that the government plans to break up Oman Air this year. It will remain a state-owned company, at least for now, but will be split into three parts that would include shipping and ground operations.
"Oman Air is losing money, so it's going through a restructuring phase. We will have three companies instead of one," he said.
"The restructuring will be within the current year of 2014," he further added.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned in June that the country would need to constrain spending growth and raise non-oil income in the medium term to keep its finances sustainable.
The IMF had predicted in October last year that Sultanate of Oman's state budget could slip into a deficit of 0.2 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2015, widening to as much as 7.1 per cent in 2018.
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