Wataniya bags $1 billion credit facility

Wataniya continues to deny takeover rumours and secures funding for further growth.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  February 14, 2007

Telecoms operator Wataniya has signed a US$1 billion syndicated credit facility with leading European, Asian, Middle Eastern and Kuwaiti banks. The three-year revolving credit facility will finance's Wataniya's continued growth and expansion.

Wataniya Telecom, which has a foothold in Iraq, Tunisia, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, as well as its home country of Kuwait, recently denied reports circulating in Europe that the company is about to be acquired.

Faisal Al-Ayyar, Chairman of Wataniya Telecom, said: "Wataniya Telecom appreciates the trust of its partners and assures them that the company will remain focused on achieving growth with its long standing, prudent and sound investment strategy."

"Since the launch of Wataniya Telecom seven years ago, we have been consistent in our investment approach in Kuwait and the region. Wataniya Telecom is now recognised as a leader in innovation in its market, but has also gained the recognition from its stakeholders and the global financial community for being a solid and a rewarding investment," Al-Ayyar continued.

BNP Paribas acted as the sole mandated lead arranger, underwriter and bookrunner for the new credit facility. Julian van Kan, head of loan syndications and trading at BNP Paribas, said: "We were very pleased with the market response to this transaction which attracted global interest from Europe and Asia as well as the Gulf region itself. With a number of regional telco borrowers having already approached the loan market for financing, conditions proved to be somewhat challenging."

"However, it is extremely encouraging to note that the syndication process attracted commitments from 21 lenders across 11 different countries. This clearly reflects positively on the Wataniya name," van Kan continued.

Wataniya announced its 2006 annual results earlier this week, with full year net profits climbing 39% year-on-year to US$251.8m. Full year revenues rose 40% to US$1.47 billion while the number of total active customers rocketed 56% during 2006 to just under 10 million.

Commenting on the results, Al-Ayyar declared: "As Wataniya Telecom's operations mature, we continue fulfilling our promise to deliver year-on-year strong consolidated growth and improved profitability."

"Our success in 2006, which gained recognition from regional as well as international industry and financial communities alike, remains driven by a solid strategy that takes us into high potential markets while differentiating us as the leaders in innovation in our existing ones. Our commitment is to remain focused, determined and committed to growing the value we offer across the entire region," Al-Ayyar continued.

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