Wataniya seals mobile JV deal with PIF

12 Dec 2006

Wataniya International has signed a shareholders’ agreement with the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) to form a new mobile operator in Palestine. Under the agreement, Wataniya will manage the start-up company and hold 40% of its equity, whilst the PIF will own 30% with the remaining 30% to be offered to the Palestinian public through a public IPO. Wataniya and PIF will announce the name of the new company and the composition of its board ‘in the near future’.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the market for wireless services in the Palestinian Territory is amongst the most competitive in the Middle East — a surprising situation given the unstable living conditions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the relative poverty of its citizens and — most of all — because on paper the market is a monopoly of Palestine Cellular Telecommunications Company (Palcel). In reality there are five mobile operators offering services to Palestinian customers, with a sixth and seventh licensed and preparing for launch. In April 2005 the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) asked Israel’s Ministry of Communications for additional wireless frequencies, but it was not until early 2006 that the request was granted and tenders for cellular mobile and digital trunking licences were launched. In September 2006 Wataniya was declared the highest bidder for a combined 2G and 3G cellular concession, with a reported bid of JOD251 million (USD354 million). The following month XPress Telecommunications of Jordan was the winning bidder in the digital trunking licence tender.

Palestinian Territory, Ooredoo Kuwait