Middle East business paper MEED, quoting a statement by Etisalat’s chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran, reports that the UAE incumbent will soon take a stake in Kurdish operator Korek Telecom. Last week it was reported that the firm was in the final stage of talks to buy a majority stake worth up to USD1 billion in a Middle East telecoms operator this year, and on Wednesday, Omran revealed the country was Iraq.
Korek was one of three companies to win a mobile phone licence in Iraq in August 2007. The Kurdish company, alongside Kuwait’s Zain and AsiaCell, partly backed by the Qatari operator Qtel, each bid USD1.2billion for a concession.
Back in February, Etisalat’s CEO Mohammad al-Qamzi told press that his company was close to forming a joint venture with a mobile operator in the Kurdish region of Iraq. ‘We are now looking at a joint venture with an existing licence holder…We are now just waiting for final agreement to get the deal done,’ he had said, without giving further details. With two of Iraq’s three mobile concessionaires already owned by Gulf-based groups (Zain Iraq [formerly Atheer] is part of Kuwait’s Zain Group and AsiaCell is part of a consortium led by Qtel), it was widely mooted that Korek Telecom was the most likely partner.