Qatar Telecom QSC said it reached agreements to double its holding to 60 percent in Asiacell, a mobile operator in Iraq, for $1.47 billion as the company seeks to expand outside its home base.
Qatar Telecom will initially increase ownership to 53.9 percent and raise that further after approval from Iraq’s government and regulators, according to an e-mailed company statement today. The transaction will be financed from existing funds, it said, without saying who is selling the stake.
“The Iraqi market is about to enter a period of rapid broadband and data growth and Asiacell is well-positioned to meet the demands of the population for high quality, reliable and affordable voice and data services,” Sheikh Abdullah said in the statement. “We continue to work hard on preparing for Asiacell’s landmark IPO planned for later this year.”
Qatar Telecom, the Persian Gulf country’s largest company by revenue, has sought to expand outside its home market where it faces increased competition from Vodafone Qatar. (VFQS) The company teamed up with Princesse Holding of Tunisia in 2010 to buy Orascom Telecom Holding SAE’s 50 percent stake in Telecom Tunisie for $1.2 billion.
Qatar Telecom held talks with MerchantBridge & Co., a London-based investment company, to buy a 19 percent stake in Asiacell, Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani said in January. Eric le Blan, acting chief executive officer of MerchantBridge, declined to comment by phone today.
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