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Libya plans to list mobile operator Libyana next year

LONDON (Reuters) - Libya aims to list one of its two state-owned mobile phone operators next year, the head of the North African country's telecoms operator said on Tuesday, as it seeks to open up a sector long isolated from foreign investment.

Government-controlled Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Co (LPTIC) owns the country's two mobile operators Al Madar and Libyana as well as Libya's main Internet provider, with the telecoms sector cut off from foreign competition during Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule.

Libyana, which has annual revenue in excess of $1 billion, could make its debut on the Tripoli stock exchange in the second quarter of 2014. It has about a 70 percent market share.

"This is a company we want to do an IPO for hopefully next year," Faisal Gergarb, LPTIC chairman, said on the sidelines of the FDI Libya conference in London.

"The time frame is Q2 next year ... that's the plan. It all depends on the local stock exchange, whether they're ready, it depends on Libyana as well but that's the intention."

He did not give further details.

Gergab also said LPTIC planned to use Al Madar as a platform to invest internationally. The two operators have some 10 million subscribers, he added.

Libya's telecoms ministry has already announced plans to launch a tender next year to award the country's first private mobile phone licence.

This comes amid government plans to decrease its hold over the sector and boost private involvement.

"This put us under severe pressure to raise the bar," Gergarb said of the plans for a third licence.

The United Arab Emirates' Etisalat as well as Kuwait's Zain have previously expressed interest in entering Libya's market.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by David Evans)

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