Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) announced Friday that it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire a controlling shareholding in Kuwait based, National Mobile Telecommunications Company KSC (Wataniya). Wataniya is one of the leading regional telecom operators with mobile operations in seven countries in the region.
Qtel will acquire 51% of the share capital of Wataniya from Kuwait Projects Company Holding KSC (KIPCO) and other related parties as well as further and additional direct investments in its Algeria and Iraq operations for a total consideration of $3.7 billion.
Commenting on the investment, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman of Qtel said: “This deal is undoubtedly the most significant in the region and totally changes the face of mobile telecommunications in this part of the world. This is yet another critically important move in our aim to be among the top 20 telecommunications companies in the world by 2020. The markets we are entering with this investment are ones with which we are culturally familiar but more importantly, where we can bring our expertise to bring real growth opportunities. We are delighted with this deal and we look forward to concluding this transaction and developing our plan for the business.”
Following the acquisition, Qtel will have an equity interest in operations in 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia. These operations are in Qatar, Kuwait, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives and Palestine. The Palestinian operation will commence operation later this year.
Qtel's other international interests are in Oman (Qtel subsidiary Nawras), Singapore (StarHub) and Indonesia (IndoSat) (through the recently announced deal with ST Telemedia).
Qtel’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Nasser Marafih said: “This investment represents another major step forward in Qtel’s growth strategy in achieving our stated objective of growing a significant business outside Qatar. For over two years now, we have stated that we would look for growth beyond our home shores and today is proof positive not only of our determination to succeed but also of our ability to thrive in a demanding, challenging but eminently rewarding sector.
Wataniya’s footprint complements our Asian market presence, which was established through our recent strategic alliance with Singapore-based ST Telemedia. Today's deal, also builds on our successful Nawras business in Oman and other investments in the region. Our success with Nawras, made us confident that we did have the skills and management expertise to develop business outside of Qatar.
Now we have a well established business in Kuwait which we are confident is capable of further expansion and development. Wataniya's joint ventures in the five other countries in the region will also be a source of learning for us and at the same time, we will share our technical and management skills to help these businesses grow.
The Wataniya business falls centrally within our sphere of influence and offers Qtel operational opportunities which it is uniquely positioned to develop. The acquisition meets all of Qtel’s financial investment criteria. We are looking forward to concluding this transaction and developing our plan for the business and working with Wataniya’s management team to enhance service offerings to customers and delivering the benefits which we believe they will yield.”