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Papua New Guinea rejects SA telecoms bid

A bid by a South African joint venture to acquire a 51% stake in telecommunications group Telikom PNG has been rejected by the Papua New Guinea government, it was announced on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare said the national executive council had decided not to proceed with the partial sale of Telikom and that the government would re-examine its options next year, including the possibility of calling fresh tenders.

He said the South African joint venture of Econet Wireless and Allied Technologies would be encouraged along with other interested parties to submit bids if a new tender were called.

It was the second rejection by the Somare government of a potential purchaser for state-owned Telikom. Soon after winning office in August 2002 the government cancelled a deal made with a Fiji-Papua New Guinea joint venture to purchase a controlling stake in Telikom.

It then asked its Independent Public Business Corporation to call new tenders, leading to the selection of the Econet joint venture after Korea Telecom pulled out.

Econet, which is a major mobile phone operator in several African countries, had agreed to pay 150-million kina ($46-million) for a 51% stake in Telikom PNG and to invest a further 800-million kina over the next seven years on expansion programmes. – Sapa-AFP

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