The government of the Union of Comoros has launched the privatisation of its national PTO Comores Telecom (Comtel) via an international auction, Agence Ecofin reports. Under the plan the Ministry of Economy and Finance is looking to divest a 51% stake in the incumbent operator to private investors. The remaining 49% equity will be retained by the government (34%), and 15% will be held by Comtel employees. TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported in November 2012 that the government had published expressions of interest for the majority stake on offer, requesting that interested parties submit applications, including information on their business and their reasons for wishing to participate in the tender process. As a precursor to the sale, the Ministry confirmed its intention to restructure Comtel, which has 230,000 mobile and around 23,600 fixed line subscribers, transferring its primary assets to a new legal entity (Newco). The privatisation of the operator was one of the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund, as part of the country’s plan to reach the completion point of its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme, the external debt relief for which amounted to EUR133 million (USD174.7 million).