The IRGC, an Iranian elite military organization, has just scored another big business acquisition through the privatization of Iran's communication organization.
From the Associated Press:
A consortium connected to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard bought a majority share in the country's telecommunications company Sunday, Iranian state media reported, bringing the strategic sector under the elite military force's control.
The Etemad-e-Mobin consortium's $7.8 billion purchase gives it a 50 percent plus one share stake in the Iranian Telecommunications Company, Iran's state media reported Sunday.
The deal underscores the Guard's increasing clout in Iran since hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — himself a former Guard member — came to power in 2005. Over that period, Companies affiliated with the Guard have been awarded more than 750 government contracts in construction and oil and gas projects.
State television said Etemad-e-Mobin was selected over another Iranian consortium that had submitted a bid for the majority stake. A third group was eliminated after authorities decided it did not hold the necessary security credentials.
Apparently, the most likely consortium to afford the asking price of $8 billion dollars was the Pishgaman Kavir Yazd Cooperative (Pishgaman-e Kavir-e Yazd). The other interested party was the Iranians' Economic Investment Company of Mehr (Moasese Mehr Eghtesade Iranian)- formerly called Basij Loan Institution, a firm associated with the Basij paramilitary force.
However, late in the game a new bidder emerged, the consortium of Etemaad-e-Mobin, consisting of three companies, two of which belong to the IRGC, with 92% share ownership.
Today, the sale took place. Pishgaman Kavir Yazd Cooperative was suddenly excluded from bidding, being ruled ineligible on grounds it lacked the necessary security qualifications. With only the IRGC and Basij bidding against each other, the auction lasted barely 30 minutes and Etemad-e-Mobin (IRGC) won. According to Naj at the neo-resistance blog, this has raised concerns that the whole privatization scheme was merely a guise with which to take Iran's communication organization away from public domain, and put it under military control.