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Tunisiana claims 3 million subscribers

Wataniya International increases stake in Bravo in Saudi Arabia to 47%

Kuwait's Wataniya Telecom has announced that its commercial operation in Tunisia, under the brand name Tunisiana, has surpassed the 3 million subscriber-mark.

Tunisiana has an advanced network covering 99% of the country's 10 million inhabitants. The operator enjoys a 47% market share, with more than 400 sales points across Tunisia, and has roaming, GPRS and MMS agreements with more than 287 operators globally.

"Since our 50% acquisition of Tunisiana in 2002, the company has experienced successful years of operations placing it at the forefront of the telecoms industry in Tunisia," said Ahmad Haleem, CEO of Wataniya International.

Despite the operational success being enjoyed by Tunisiana, a cloud still looms over the operator given an arbitration case brought by fellow 50% shareholder Orascom Telecom in which the Egyptian operator claims to have a contractual right to acquire Wataniya's 50% stake in Tunisiana.

Orascom sold a 50% stake of Tunisiana to Wataniya in October 2002 for US$113.5 million, and Orascom last year stated that it had been unable to reach an amicable resolution of its claim that Wataniya had materially breached an agreement.

Wataniya International also announced it has increased its stake in Saudi Arabia's Bravo iDEN network to 47%. The Public Telecommunications Company (PTC), which is the company that operates the Bravo network, was previously held 38% by Wataniya International. Other shareholders in PTC are Nasco, Ali A. Tamimi Co. and Sultan Najr Al Otaibi, though Wataniya International manages Bravo's network.

PTC was awarded a 15-year ‘build, operate, transfer' licence in cooperation with Saudi Telecom and launched commercial services in July 2005 under the brand name Bravo. By 1Q06, Bravo counted 18,706 subscribers.

"Bravo has been a tremendous success with the business segment in the kingdom. We are keen to continue investing in Saudi Arabia's dynamic and fast-growing market," said Haleem. Bravo's network is built in partnership with Motorola.

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