Wataniya Telecom has announced that its Tunisian wireless subsidiary Tunisiana (Orascom Telecom Tunisie, OTT) has welcomed the addition of its three millionth subscriber. ‘Since our 50% acquisition of Tunisiana in 2002, the company has experienced successful years of operations placing it today at the forefront of the telecommunications industry in Tunisia,’ said Ahmad Haleem, chief executive officer of Wataniya International.
According to Telegeography’s GlobalComms database, relations between Tunisiana’s shareholders – Wataniya and Orascom – have been strained; in May last year Orascom announced it would file a request for arbitration against Wataniya to enforce what it claimed to be a contractual right to acquire Wataniya’s 50% stake in Tunisiana. In its suit, Orascom claimed it had been unable to reach an amicable resolution to its assertion that Wataniya had ‘materially breached a [shareholder] agreement’, and was therefore requesting arbitration by the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC’s) International Court of Arbitration. While details are scant as to the exact nature of the disagreement between the two parties, local press reports suggest that Orascom’s decision to litigate was motivated by the Kuwaiti operator’s decision to join a consortium, consisting of Univest, the National Bank of Development of Egypt and Aman Trading, to bid for Egypt’s third wireless licence. Had the consortium been successful (it eventually lost out to Etisalat in July 2006), Wataniya would have been a principal shareholder in a direct competitor to Orascom’s Egyptian wireless arm MobiNil.