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Qtel ups stake in Tunisian telco

Tunisiana holding set to reach 90%

Qtel has been pursuing a vigorous expansion strategy in the MENA region.
Qtel has been pursuing a vigorous expansion strategy in the MENA region.

Qatar Telecom on Monday said it has reached an agreement with the Tunisian Government to acquire a further 15% stake in Tunisiana for $360m.

National Mobile Telecommunications Company, a 92.1% subsidiary of Qtel, already has a direct holding of 75% in Tunisiana.

Following completion of the transaction, Qtel and its subsidiaries' total holding in Tunisiana will increase to 90%, a statement said.

The Tunisian Government will retain a 10% holding in Tunisiana with a view to a public offering in the future, it added.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani, chairman of Qtel Group, said: "We are pleased to have been offered the opportunity to further increase our shareholding in Tunisiana, an outstanding company which we believe will continue to deliver long term value for our shareholders.

"We also look forward to continuing our partnership with the Tunisian authorities as Tunisiana enters into a new phase of its development with the continuing expansion of 3G services and the launch of fixed line services in 2013.

"We are convinced that these new services will enhance the experience of Tunisiana's customers and will contribute to growth in Tunisia's economy."

In November, Qtel said that it could be interested in acquiring a controlling stake in Morocco's largest telecom operator, Maroc Telecom, as it seeks to expand its geographical footprint.

The Doha-based telco, which operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said it will only look to buy a stake in Maroc if it fits Qtel's strategy.