Qtel’s Wataniya interest benefits Algeria, Tunisia
Qatar Telecom has almost doubled its stake in Kuwait’s number two telecommunications operator Wataniya and this is expected to have a significant impact on the Tunisian market, where Wataniya has a large presence.
The deal sees Qatar Telecom (Qtel) double its stake in Wataniya to 92.1 percent, which gives it more control over the company’s subsidiaries in emerging telecom markets Algeria and Tunisia.
Qtel, which currently operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is reportedly to pay “519.1 million Kuwaiti dinars ($1.8 billion) at 2.6 dinars per share to raise its stake in Wataniya from 52.5 percent,” it said in a statement on Sunday.
“For the past couple of years the geopolitical situation in the Middle East has made it riskier to buy into new assets, so Qtel has prioritized raising its stakes in existing units where it knows the market and the other shareholders,” said Marc Hammoud, Deutsche Bank telecoms analyst, in Dubai, in comments published by trade publications on the deal.
Many analysts are viewing the move as a potential watershed moment for Tunisia and Algeria, both of which are making major strides in both data and Broadband services in recent months. Qtel said it hopes that by boosting its shares in Wataniya it can develop infrastructure in both Tunisia and Algeria to bring them on line with the rest of the region in terms of telecom offerings.
Wataniya owns 71 percent of Algeria’s Nedjma and 75 percent of Tunisia’s Tunisiana. According to Qtel’s results, revenue of both companies were up by 33 and 116 percent respectively last year.
Analysts in Tunisia and Algeria, speaking tentatively as the deal was announced on Monday, believe that it will help continue to boost telecom and mobile operators’ ability to deliver new services with speed in the countries. The new investment they argue will allow for further investment in the countries’ respective industries.