Qatar's Qtel, Purchases Tunisiana for U.S.$1.2 Billion

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Tunis — Reuters reports that Orascom Telecom has sold its 50 percent stake in Tunisian mobile operator Tunisiana to a Qatari-Tunisian consortium for $1.2 billion.
The consortium includes Qatar Telecom's (Qtel), the Kuwaiti unit Wataniya, which already owns 50 percent of Tunisiana, the Qatari landline line and wireless carrier, said on Monday.

Orascom's shares jumped 3.6 percent in early trade on Egypt's main index after the announcement of the sale. Wataniya shares rose 2.1 percent to close at a two-year high.Wataniya has bought the Tunisiana stake from Orascom in a consortium led by Princesse Holding of Tunisia, Qtel said.

According to Reuters, of the 50 percent stake, 75 percent is expected to go to Wataniya and 25 percent to Princesse Holding, subject to approval by Tunisian regulators. The deal is expected to pay for Orascom's debt service.

Observers note that the deal will create a stronger competition on the Tunisian telecom market following the recent entry of the French operator, Orange in Tunisia. The French operator, Orange, which was given a 3-G license, is the third operator on the Tunisian telecom market after Tunisie Telecom and Orascom's Tunisiana.