Etisalat expands into West Africa

Atlantique Telecom is based in Cote d’Ivoire and owns majority shareholdings in mobile operators in Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Niger, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, which it acquired from Orascom Telecom in May 2003.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  April 20, 2005

Etisalat International has entered into a strategic partnership with West African mobile operator Atlantique Telecom and acquired a 50% stake in the operator. The deal gives Etisalat a 10-year contract to manage the six-country operations of Atlantique Telecom. Atlantique Telecom is based in Cote d’Ivoire and owns majority shareholdings in mobile operators in Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Niger, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, which it acquired from Orascom Telecom in May 2003. These operations had been part of the Telecel International portfolio of operations sold-off by Orascom in two transactions. The transaction involving Atlantique saw the sale of Telecel Gabon, Telecel Benin, Telecel Togo, Telecel Niger, and Telecel Burkino Faso to Atlantique Telecom for US$23.1 million. “This strategic alliance further complements Etisalat’s international investments,” says Obaid Saied Bin Mes’har, CEO of Etisalat International. The UAE operator already owns a significant stake in the second mobile licensee in Saudi Arabia, Etihad Etisalat, as well as a 40% stake in a consortium that was awarded a license to launch Sudan’s second fixed-line network last November. Etisalat also holds a 4.6% stake in Sudan’s fixed line incumbent, Sudatel, which owns the country’s monopoly mobile operator Mobitel. Etisalat owns a 34% stake in Zanzibar regional operator Zantel, which has been authorised to extend its coverage to mainland Tanzania, as well as holding a 1% stake in Qatari counterpart Qtel. Etisalat International was formed at the beginning of March to pool the operator’s expanding portfolio of international investments. “When you look at the penetration levels of the UAE market, it only makes good business sense to look outward for other opportunities,” Bin Mes’har told CommsMEA at the time. Etisalat International is currently involved in investment bids in Turkey and Pakistan where it stands to gain a controlling 55% stake in Turkish telco Turk Telecom and a 26% stake in Pakistani telco Pakistan Telecommunications.

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