Qtel seals Tunisia mobile deal

Rebeca Hawkes | 06-01-2011

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has finalised the deal to see it take a 75% controlling stake in mobile operator Tunisiana via its subsidiary Wataniya, with Princesse Holding Group taking the remaining 25% of the company.

The partnership will see the chairman of Princesse Holding, Mohamed Sakher Al Materi, become the new chairman of Tunisiana.

Qtel spent US$1.2 billion on acquiring a further 25% of Tunisiana from Orascom Telecom for the former’s Wataniya unit, which already held 50% of the company - using both cash and debt to acquire the stake, as announced in November 2010.

“Qtel has consistently and confidently pursued a strategy of actively developing a global portfolio of assets which represent long term value for our shareholders , and this latest agreement is a clear sign of our ongoing success in this area,” said Sheikh Abullah Bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani, Qtel’s chairman.

“By further increasing our shareholding in Tunisiana, which has already earned a strong market position, we will be able to ensure that the company advances to the next stage of development, delivering additional products and services for its customers , as well as benefits for all Qtel’s stakeholders.”

With this deal, state-owned Qtel now controls nine operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as having shares in eight others across MENA and into Asia.

“The acquisition is in line with the Qtel Group’s vision for 2020, which aims to position us among the top 20 telecommunications companies in the world,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani.

Tunisiana began operations in December 2002, and as of the end of June counted 5.5 million subscribers - equating to a market share of 52.9%. Qtel already has about 68 million subscribers across 17 countries.

Meanwhile, Cairo-based Orascom Telecom said in November the sale of its stake in Tunisiana was part of its push to strengthen liquidity and “support the development of higher growth businesses”.