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Qtel interested in Meditel only “at right price”

Qatar-based telco says cost is key in negotiations for Moroccan mobile operator Meditel

Qtel CEO Dr Nasser Marafih wants to focus on regions the operator already has a presence in.
Qtel CEO Dr Nasser Marafih wants to focus on regions the operator already has a presence in.

Price will be the deciding factor for Qtel in any negotiations for a stake in Moroccan operator Meditel, according to Qtel CEO Dr Nasser Marafih.

Qtel expressed an interest in purchasing a stake in Morocco’s second largest operator in June, and the Qatar-based firm reaffirmed its commitment in a statement released to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange yesterday.

Qtel CEO Dr Nasser Marafih told CommsMEA that although Qtel is working to consolidate three years worth of growth and acquisitions in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, the group was “looking for additional opportunities that would fit with our portfolio, but we are not in a hurry”.

“One option that we are looking at is Meditel, but it has to be done at the right price, which is going to be the important part,” he said.

“Meditel is a good company, and it has good potential for growth. There are others in the market, but a lot will depend on their availability, and their price,” Marafih said, without elaborating.

Portugal Telecom recently put its 32% stake in Meditel up for sale, but in a statement Qtel said the intentions of the remaining shareholders were “unclear”, and that it would “continue to monitor the situation until the facts become clearer”.

Spanish mobile giant Telefonica also has a 32.2% stake in the fixed and mobile operator, with the remaining shares owned by a Moroccan investment group and a Moroccan industrial group.

According to Reuters, Telefonica has the right of first refusal to bid for Portugal Telecom’s stake in Meditel, which has 8.4 million mobile subscribers, according to Telefonica’s latest figures.

The sale has attracted the interest of some of the region’s largest telecom operators, with the UAE's Etisalat, Egypt's Orascom, Bahrain’s Batelco and Saudi Telecom all expressing an interest in the operator. Bids are due by September 14th.