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France Telecom looks to enter Iraq via stake in Korek

25 Nov 2010

France Telecom (FT) has reportedly entered into talks to buy a minority stake in Kurdish mobile operator Korek Telecom, as part of a strategy to expand its presence in the Middle East. According to a report by the Financial Times, which cities people familiar with the situation, the French telco is interested in eventually securing a controlling stake in Korek, although no deal has been finalised. Korek initially focused on the provision of mobile services in Kurdistan, but in August 2007 it was awarded a national licence and has developed into Iraq’s third-largest cellco by customers, with has an estimated 2.55 million subscribers at 30 September 2010. The FT deal could give the Erbil-based cellco an enterprise value of USD1.5 billion.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, another international telecoms operator, UAE-based Etisalat, first expressed an interest in securing a 51% stake in Korek Telecom in October 2008, in a deal worth up to USD1 billion. In December 2009 the company revealed it was considering whether to bid for a licence in the country or instead buy a stake in Korek, while in February 2010 Etisalat said it was ‘almost near to finalising a deal’ with the cellco. However, two months later the firm rejected reports that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Korek to buy a majority stake in the operator.

Iraq, Korek Telecom, Orange Group

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