Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is paying USD3.7 billion to acquire a controlling 51% stake in Kuwait’s second largest cellular operator Wataniya. The stake is being sold by a group of Wataniya investors led by the investment firm KIPCO. Wataniya had more than eight million subscribers across its operations in Kuwait, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives at the end of September 2006. Qtel now has equity interests in operators in eleven countries in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa.
His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman of Qtel, commented: ‘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.’