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Qtel raises Wataniya stake to 92.1%; Kuwaiti sovereign fund offloads entire interest

8 Oct 2012

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has concluded a mandatory tender offer for additional shares in its Kuwait-based subsidiary National Mobile Telecommunications (Wataniya Telecom), resulting in its controlling stake rising from 52.5% to 92.1%. Qtel made a USD2.2 billion offer to minority shareholders of Wataniya Telecom on 4 September 2012 for the 47.5% of shares it did not own, and at the offer’s expiry date of 4 October it had received acceptances for 199.65 million shares, representing a 39.61% stake, costing KWD519.1 million (USD1.84 billion) at a price of KWD2.60 per share. In 2007 Qtel paid USD3.8 billion for a majority stake in Wataniya, which operates via subsidiaries Wataniya Kuwait (100%-owned), Nedjma in Algeria (71%), Tunisiana in Tunisia (75%), Wataniya Maldives (100%), Wataniya Palestine (48.5%) and Bravo in Saudi Arabia (100%). In 2011 Wataniya posted revenue of USD2.62 billion and net profit of USD1.30 billion, and with the enlargement of its equity stake Qtel is hoping to capitalise on further mobile sector growth in these markets, especially Algeria and Tunisia.

Wataniya’s second largest shareholder, Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), sold its entire 23.5% holding to Qtel via the tender offer. Subject to approval by the Kuwait Capital Markets Authority and the Kuwait Stock Exchange, Wataniya’s investors who have tendered their shares will receive payment within approximately three weeks.

Qtel’s CEO, Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, expressed delight at the conclusion of the share offer, and added: ‘We also respect the decision of those Wataniya Telecom shareholders who decided not to accept the offer and look forward to their continuing support as we enter into a new period of investment across all Wataniya Telecom Kuwait’s main markets. We are also grateful for the Algerian authorities’ understanding of our position, taking into consideration that no change takes place in the Wataniya Telecom Algeria management control in line with Algerian law, and granting us the opportunity to fulfil this deal which will stimulate our investments, particularly in the promising and thriving Algerian market.’

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