The decision to seek an international manager was prompted by the withdrawal of the UK's Cable & Wireless (C&W), which has run TeleYemen since its formation in 1990 (MEED 8:8:03). C&W had a 51 per cent stake in the venture and the state-owned Public Telecommunications Company held the remaining 49 per cent. The government is to buy back the UK firm's shares by the end of the year and the new manager will not take any equity.
TeleYemen provides fixed-line, telex, internet and analogue mobile services to some 70,000 subscribers. The GSM market is split between local operators Sabaphone and Spacetel Yemen, but their exclusive rights expire in October 2004. 'The government may then decide to issue a third GSM licence,' says a TeleYemen official. 'Naturally an important issue for the selected manager will be whether to bid for this.'