Qatar Telecom to spend $1.8 billion to up stake in Wataniya to 92.1% from 52.5%

Telecom Lead Middle East: Qatar Telecom will increase its stake in Wataniya to 92.1 percent from 52.5 percent.

For doubling its stake in Kuwait’s No.2 operator, Qtel, which operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, will invest $1.8 billion.

The strategic investment will enable Qtel to improve bottom line and have more control of subsidiaries in the high growth markets of Algeria and Tunisia.

Qtel consolidates Wataniya’s net profit on a pro rata basis. In 2011, the firm made a net profit of 362 million dinars from its operations in Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Territories.

Wataniya owns 71 percent of Algeria’s Nedjma and 75 percent of Tunisia’s Tunisiana, with this pair’s revenue up 33 and 116 percent respectively last year.

Yet Kuwait accounted for about 90 percent of Wataniya’s net profit last year, with the country’s average revenue per user (ARPU) among the highest in the Gulf.

Wataniya has an estimated 39 percent share of Kuwait’s mobile subscribers, with Zain claiming 41 percent and Saudi Telecom Co’s (STC) affiliate, Viva, 20 percent.

In June this year, Qtel decided to double its stake in Iraq’s No. 2 operator Asiacell to 60 percent for $1.47 billion.

Recently, Qtel Group has named Abdulaziz Fakhroo, deputy CEO of Wataniya Kuwait as the new acting CEO of Wataniya Kuwait.

Qtel group has reported 7.6 percent revenue growth in the first quarter to QR 8 billion from QR 7.5 billion in Q1 2011. Qatar Telecom group’s net profit decreased 12.2 per cent to QR 711 million in Q1 against QR 811 million during the same period last year. The decrease in profit was mainly due to foreign exchange losses in its Indonesian unit.

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