Regional telcos scout for acquisitions

Incumbent telecom operators look for targets in North Africa and Asia

Tags: BahrainBatelco Middle East CompanyMergers and acquisitionsSaudi ArabiaSaudi Telecom Company
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Regional telcos scout for acquisitions Batelco CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos said the company was looking for targets with an upper price of $2 billion.
By  Roger Field Published  June 30, 2010

Two of the region's incumbent operators, Batelco and STC, are continuing to scout for acquisition targets, with North Africa and Asia a particular area of focus.

Peter Kaliaropoulos, CEO, Batelco, told CommsMEA that his company was continuing to search for "suitable M&A opportunities" with an upper price limit of $2 billion, in the North Africa and India/Asia Pac region.

"We are keen to get involved with companies which have just started operations or are operating for some time and still growing," he said.

He added that the Batelco was less interested in green field start ups, mainly owing to their "long break-even points of three to four years", and challenges associated with the roll out of infrastructure and brand development.

"In terms of debt and equity, $2 billion is the upper end of our M&A ambitions and yes we are still keen to progress with targets up to $2 billion in enterprise value," he added.

Meanwhile, Ghassan Hasbani, CEO international, STC, said that his company was also interested in acquisition opportunities in North Africa.

"North Africa is a more specific opportunity that we are looking at, and we are looking at markets that would complement our current footprint and create synergies with our current footprint, and that we can operationally leverage without an overstretch on resources or focus," he said.

"Our strategy is very focused and balanced, so we always look for targets that would complement our capabilities at right price point and with the right growth opportunity and synergy opportunity," he added.

In terms of the renewed interest in M&A activity from operators in the region, Hasbani said he viewed the trend as the market "waking after a year of 'wait and see' strategy".

"People see that we are emerging out of the economic downturn globally. Financing is more available than it was before and certain opportunities are starting to emerge," he added.

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