Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and Princesse Holding of Tunisia have announced that they will buy 50% of Tunisian wireless network operator Tunisiana for USD1.2 billion from Orascom Telecom Holding. Qtel subsidiary Wataniya Telecom signed an agreement with a group led by Princesse Holding, a diversified holding company based in Tunis, to purchase the stake, Qtel said in an e-mailed statement. Wataniya already owns the other 50% of Tunisiana. ‘Wataniya will finance its portion of the transaction with a mixture of existing cash and debt, and now will control the board and management of Tunisiana,’ the statement went on. The partners anticipate closing the deal in early January 2011.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Tunsia has enjoyed enviable mobile subscriber growth rates in recent years, although the rate of net new wireless additions is declining, from 88% per year in 2004 to just 12.6% in 2008. In 2009, however, the growth rate jumped to 21.6%, while in Q1 and Q2 2010 the quarterly increases rose to 3.6% and 5.8% respectively, reflecting the entrance of Orange in May of that year. Penetration stood at 110% at mid-2010, indicating that future growth prospects are narrowing. Moreover, average monthly revenue per user is falling rapidly, with Tunisiana reporting a figure of just USD10.2 in 2Q 2010, down from USD14.8 in the same quarter of 2008.