i2 Group continues on acquisition trail

Phone retailer announces revenues of US$1.3 billion for 2006.

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By  Administrator Published  March 1, 2007

Saudi-registered mobile phone wholesaler, distributor and retailer i2 Group announced the acquisition of computer retailer Compume through a share swap deal, making the combined entity one of the biggest providers of combined telecoms, digital electronics and IT products in the Middle East and Africa region.

This latest acquisition, as well as the recent buyout of Cellempower and UK GSM trading company Allied TC last year, has led i2 to announce projected revenue growth figures for 2007 at US$3.2 billion, doubling the US$1.3 billion in revenue it made in 2006. In addition the retailer expects to shift 12 million handsets in 2007, again more than double what it sold the previous year.

"Our annual revenues, which have increased fivefold in three years, are a clear reflection of our drive to grow and diversify," said i2 CEO Abdul Hameed Al Sunaid.

The Compume merger will pave the way for the creation of multi-concept stores, with i2 planning to open an additional 150 retail outlets in the Middle East and Africa regions in the next three years with a total investment of US$35 million. Additionally, the existing 340 i2 retail stores will be revisited for planned refurbishments to include IT and electronic product offerings.

"This is a momentous occasion for i2 Group as we pursue our expansion plan to be the largest retailer covering 30 countries. Undoubtedly, i2 is the only electronics, telecommunications, and IT retailer with an extensive network that spans across the Middle East and Africa," commented Al Sunaid.

Dikran Tchablakian, who was vice chairman of Compume has been appointed senior vice president of i2 Group and will be in charge of the retail operations. Tchablakian was one of the pioneers of Sakhr, a successful and popular Arabic computer hardware and software business based in Saudi Arabia in the mid-80s to early 90s, where over 50 retail stores were opened. He then went on to create Compume in 1998 as the first computer mega store in the region with franchise outlets in UAE, Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobbar, Egypt and Bahrain.

In 2005, i2 and Tchablakian acquired the UAE operations of Compume retail outlets from Compume British Virgin Islands through a 60-40 partnership. Moving forward, the two began negotiations in December 2006 on a share-swap deal wherein Compume would be merged with i2 Group. The agreement was finalised in January 2007.

Al Sunaid's plans for the rest of this year include a continued focus on Africa where i2's strategy has been to penetrate undersubscribed markets such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast. The phone distributor already has an operational reach extending across 22 markets and maintains a European presence through Allied TC, evidence, according to Al Sunaid, that regional companies can thrive on a global scale.

"We are unique in the sense that few local companies share our operational breath covering 22 countries with a considerable role as a leading mobile provider. i2 is a local success story, deserving of it exceptional performance year after year," said Al Sunaid.

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