JT plays the field in its drive to become an ISP
The high-tech community on Monday was rife with rumors of an imminent deal with which Jordan Telecom would acquire Global One, the country's first Internet Service Provider — both in chronological and market share terms. The deal could only be a few days away, industry sources told the Jordan Times on Monday, after Jordan Telecom put forward an offer, reportedly worth 12.8 million Jordanian dinars at a morning meeting.
The two main players, however, remained tight-lipped. Global One's Imad Ayoub declined to issue any statements yesterday, saying it could take as many as two weeks for the situation to be clearer. Jordan Telecom's Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Olivier Faure was equally reserved, and insisted that, in its drive to become an ISP, the country's sole telecommunications company was still treading two parallel paths: Either buying up an already existing ISP — namely Global One — or establishing its own Internet division.
Global One Communications (Jordan) — this is the official name of the company — was established in February 1996, in fulfillment of one of the projects presented at the 1995 Amman Middle East and North Africa summit. It was also at that November summit, strongly wanted by the late King Hussein, that the Internet made its first appearance in Jordan.
The company is the child of a joint venture between Global One International and the local ASAS Trade and Investment Company. Operations started in March 1996 as the first and still the largest data communications company in the Kingdom to serve businesses and consumers by providing Internet and data communications services and solutions. Last year, Global One declared a $3.5 million turnover.
Global One and Jordan Telecom already have a major component in common: France Telecom is a strategic partner in both entities. It owns a major share in Global One International — which owns 49 percent of Global One Jordan — and a 40 percent strategic stake in Jordan Telecom, which it acquired last year.
France Telecom's controlling interests in both companies could cause a legal hurdle on the way towards its acquisition of Global One. According to the Telecommunications Law, a company cannot own more than one license of the same type. If the deal is pulled through, France Telecom would indirectly possess two licenses for data communications and Internet services in Jordan: The one awarded to Jordan Telecom prior to its privatization last year, and the one owned by Global One Jordan.
“Being a partner in Jordan Telecom, France Telecom could go around [the law's requirement] by selling its shares in Global One Jordan,” one industry source said, asking not to be named. — ( Jordan Times )
By Francesca Sawalha
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)