8 Jan 2015
Jean Bruno Obambi, CEO of Azur Telecom, is in the process of securing international financing for the company’s operating units in the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Gabon. According to Jeune Afrique, discussions are underway with a number of international financial institutions, with the talks being overseen by Monaco Telecom officials (see below). Discussions are said to be at an advanced stage with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group, with other rumoured backers said to include the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO, also known as the Netherlands Development Finance Company), a bilateral private-sector development bank based in the Hague. Jeune Afrique reports that Azur owner BinTel may be willing to sell a 20% stake in its business for around EUR20 million (USD23.7 million).
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June 2014 Monaco Telecom signed a strategic partnership agreement with Azur Telecom’s parent company, Middle Eastern group BinTel. Under the initial phase of the partnership, Monaco Telecom will assist in the revision of BinTel’s business plan and also help to raise funds for the company, while the second stage will involve cooperating in areas including marketing, network infrastructure and roaming for a period of three years.
Lebanon-based BinTel was founded by Mu’taz Sawwaf in 2006, as a telecoms offshoot of the Saudi BinLadin Group. Registered in Dubai in 2007, and initially headquartered in Bahrain, the company was set up with a view to acquiring and operating GSM providers across Africa. In 2007 it acquired NationLink in the Central African Republic, and in October 2009 BinTel successfully launched as the fourth mobile operator in Gabon under the brand name Azur. In December 2009 the company was awarded the fourth mobile licence in the Republic of Congo; Equateur Telecom Congo (Azur) went on to launch commercial services in September 2010.