Qatar Telecom Offers to Buy $1.9 Billion Wataniya Stake

Qatar Telecom (QTEL) QSC offered to buy a stake valued at about $1.9 billion in Kuwait’s National Mobile Telecommunications Co. as it steps up acquisitions amid competition at home.

Qatar Telecom offered to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in National Mobile, also known as Wataniya Telecom, the Capital Markets Authority said in a statement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The shares of Wataniya Telecom (NMTC) will remain suspended until the regulator takes a decision on the request, it said, without providing further details.

Qatar Telecom, the nation’s biggest phone company, owns a 52.5 percent stake in Wataniya Telecom, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Based on Wataniya Telecom’s closing share price yesterday, the stake Qatar Telecom is seeking to acquire is valued at 526.7 million dinars ($1.9 billion), according to Bloomberg calculations.

Qatar Telecom, which owns stakes in phone companies from Tunisia to Indonesia, is seeking to expand outside its home market where it faces competition from Vodafone Qatar. The Doha- based company last month reached agreements to double its holding in Asiacell, a mobile operator in Iraq, for $1.47 billion. It teamed up with Princesse Holding of Tunisia in 2010 to buy Orascom Telecom Holding SAE’s 50 percent stake in Telecom Tunisie for $1.2 billion.

Wealth Fund Stake

Wataniya Telecom encompasses Qatar Telecom Group’s businesses in Kuwait, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives and Palestine, according to Qatar Telecom’s first- quarter financial statement. The Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is the second-biggest shareholder in the Kuwaiti phone company with a stake of 23.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Wataniya Telecom shares, which closed at 2,200 fils yesterday, were suspended from trading today. The stock has gained 13 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait at dkholaif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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