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Tunisian government to sell its 24% stake in Nouvelair

A Nouvelair plane on the tarmac at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport in France. The airline carried 1.3m passengers in the year to November Reuters/Emmanuel Foudrot
A Nouvelair plane on the tarmac at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport in France. The airline carried 1.3m passengers in the year to November
  • Tunis aiming to raise $210m by disposing of state-owned assets
  • Aviation business was confiscated from brother-in-law of ex-president

Tunisia’s state-owned investment company, Al Karama Holding, plans to sell its shares in Nouvelair and Nouvelair Handling this month, according to national press agency Tunis Afrique Presse.

The move comes as the Tunisian government attempts to raise 656 million dinar ($210.2 million) through privatisation and the sale of companies confiscated from establishment figures after the country’s Jasmine Revolution in 2011.

Nouvelair and its handling subsidiary were seized from Belhassan Trabelsi, a brother-in-law of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in January 2011. The president was deposed after four weeks of protests that sparked the wider Arab Spring movement.

Trabelsi left Tunisia after the revolution, but the state seized his aviation business as well as several properties. He is now believed to live in France. Ben Ali died in exile in Saudi Arabia in September 2019.

The Tunisian state now holds a 23.85 percent stake in Nouvelair and 2.76 percent of Nouvelair Handling.

Last April, Al Karama Holding launched an international tender to select investment banks and consulting firms to work on the sale of direct and indirect public shares in the two companies.

Nouvelair, which flies to locations across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, transported nearly 1.3 million passengers in the year to the end of November 2022, according to the country’s Ministry of Transport.

The sale of stakes in confiscated companies was one of the proposals Tunis made to the International Monetary Fund to qualify for more financial aid.

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