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Wataniya completes acquisition of Tunisiana

Wataniya and Princesse Holding acquire 50% of Tunisiana from Orascom Telecom

Wataniya now holds a 75% stake in Tunisiana.
Wataniya now holds a 75% stake in Tunisiana.

Kuwaiti mobile operator Wataniya Telecom has completed its acquisition of Tunisian telco Tunisiana and now holds a 75% stake in the company.

Under the deal, Wataniya and a consortium led by Princesse Holding Group of Tunisia each acquired a 25% stake in Tunisiana from Orascom Telecom, for $1.2 billion.

Wataniya, a subsidiary of Qatar's Qtel Group, already owned a 50% stake in Tunisiana. Wataniya will finance its additional stake with existing cash and debt.

Under the shareholders' agreement, which was signed on Wednesday, Princesse Holding's chairman, Mohamed Sakher Al Materi, became the new chairman of Tunisiana.

H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani, chairman of both Qtel and Wataniya, said that the deal underlined "the strong bonds that link Qatar with Tunisia"  and pointed to further opportunities for "joint investment and development".

"By further increasing our shareholding in Tunisiana, which has already earned a strong market position, we will be able to ensure that the company advances to the next stage of development, delivering additional products and services for its customers, as well as benefits for all Qtel Group's stakeholders," he added.

With over 5.7 million subscribers as of September 2010, Tunisiana has a market share of about 51% of Tunisia's mobile market, and competes with Tunisie Telecom and new entrant, Orange Tunisie, which launched fixed and mobile services in the country in May 2010.

Qtel acquired a majority shareholding in Wataniya in 2007. With this transaction, Qtel Group now controls nine operations in the MENA region, with a subscriber base of more than 68 million customers.