Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommuni- cations Company (Wataniya Telecom)has acquired a 50 per cent stake in the venture that holds Tunisia's second GSM licence. Wataniya, which was one of the original bidders for the licence, has bought the interest as part of a joint venture agreement with Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT). The Egyptian firm was awarded the licence in May for $454 million (MEED 17:5:02).
Under the terms of the deal, Wataniya will pay OT $113.5 million in total, including an immediate cash portion of $90 million, for a 50 per cent stake in its local subsidiary Orascom Telecom Tunisia (OTT). The two parties will share equal management rights on OTT's board. Proceeds of the transaction will be used to reimburse shareholder loans and finance OTT's operations.
OT will continue to be the majority shareholder in the consortium of Arab and international investors that owns 35 per cent of the Tunisian operating company. The move is the latest in a series of actions the Egyptian company is taking in a bid to strengthen its debt-heavy balance sheet (MEED 11:10:02).