Speaking at the Telecoms World Middle East conference in Dubai, Ooredoo (formerly Qtel) chief strategy officer Jeremy Sell outlined Morocco, India and South East Asia as regions where the Qatari mobile group is keen to expand its reach. Sell, who joined Qtel in 2006 as head of mergers and acquisitions, conceded that viable M&A targets are ‘limited’ in the current market, but noted that Ooredoo maintains a list of around 30 potential targets which it studies each month ‘to see if there is any movement’. Further, with reference to Ooredoo’s withdrawal from the race to acquire Maroc Telecom, Sell said: ‘who knows, it hasn’t closed yet’.
When quizzed by TeleGeography on his view of Vimpelcom’s difficulties in securing a foothold in South East Asia – the Russian-backed group sold its Vietnamese and Cambodian operations to local partners after incurring heavy losses – he admitted that working with authorities from Myanmar’s former military junta will pose a unique challenge. The junta was officially dissolved in 2011 but the military retains an enormous influence. However, Sell is optimistic that Ooredoo is well-positioned to succeed with its greenfield mobile network, saying that the Myanmar government had ‘opened the door too wide’ and that ‘the prize was too big’ to let the introduction of competition fail at this stage in the process.