WATANIYA CLOSES FINANCING FOR TUNISIANA DESPITE ARBITRATION
Kuwait’s Wataniya Telecom has announced the closing of US$442 million in debt financing by its mobile services subsidiary in Tunisia, Orascom Telecom Tunisie operating under the brand name Tunisiana.
The financing package, structured and arranged by a consortium led by Citigroup and Arab Banking Corporation, includes an additional 11 Tunisian and 30 international banks. The transaction will give Tunisiana access to foreign currency in order to alleviate debt, and will also support the operator’s vision of driving innovative new products and services in an increasingly competitive marketplace through investment in leading edge technologies that will benefit both consumers and corporate customers.
Tunisiana launched commercial service in December 2002 and currently has more than 2.5 million active subscribers and in excess of 45% market share.
Orascom Telecom Tunisie is owned and controlled by joint-venture partners Wataniya and Orascom Telecom Holding of Egypt, which each own 50% of the company. Last month Orascom Telecom announced it would file a request for arbitration against Wataniya Telecom to enforce what it claims to be a contractual right to acquire Wataniya’s 50% stake in Tunisiana.
Orascom stated that it had been unable to reach an amicable resolution of its claim that Wataniya has materially breached an agreement, and would therefore request for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration.