Etisalat expansion into Central Africa imminent

The latest deal to acquire the four further operations is expected to be concluded imminently, according to Etisalat and Atlantique, boosting their presence in Central and West Africa to 10 countries.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  April 25, 2005

Less than a week after announcing its acquisition of a 50% stake in West African operator Atlantique Telecom, UAE operator Etisalat International has announced that the two companies are close to securing a deal with four Central Africa telecoms operators. The original deal, which saw Etisalat acquire an equity position in Atlantique as well as a 10-year management contract was valued at more Eur100 million (US$130 million). Atlantique already has stakes in mobile operations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Niger and Togo, which it acquired through Orascom Telecom’s sale of Telecel assets in 2003. The six countries have a combined population of approximately 50 million. The latest deal to acquire the four further operations is expected to be concluded imminently, according to Etisalat and Atlantique, boosting their presence in Central and West Africa to 10 countries. Etisalat will manage the operations of each of the newly acquired networks through Atlantique Telecom. At the time Orascom sold the six West African operations to Atlantique in 2003, the Egyptian operator also transferred Telecel Zambia, Uganda's U-Com, Telecel Burundi, Telecel Central African Republic, and South Africa's Telecel Pty to Gloria Trust, which was an existing shareholder in Telecel in exchange for 26.5% of Gloria Trust’s ownership in Telecel, US$27 million loan forgiveness, and 7.5 million of Orascom's GDRs. It has been speculated that it is these operations that will be acquired by Etisalat and Atlantique. The CEO of Etisalat International, Obaid Saied Bin Mes’har has said the operator shall remain acquisitive across the Middle East and Africa. “The answer to which type of investments we will pursue will depend on the individual opportunity, though I think the Saudi investment was an exception, as I expect that mostly we will be going the acquisition route,” Al Mes’har explains.

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