Maroc Telecom and Orascom Telecom, the fourth and fifth largest operators in the region make fewer headlines than the big three – but they do make a lot of money.

Morocco’s former state-owned monopoly has benefited from the change of its management team in 2005 when Vivendi, a French media conglomerate, bought a controlling stake in the company. Maroc Telecom’s net profits grew by 14 per cent in the first half of 2008 on the back of organic growth in its Moroccan, Mauritanian and West African markets.

Orascom made an impressive $1.4bn net profit during the second half of 2007, but this was only possible because of a one-off gain of $992m from the sale of its Iraqi subsidiary, Iraqna, to Zain in December.

Small and large operators can help to make the telecoms markets more competitive. But as the big three operators continue to look for growth markets in the Middle East, the success of businesses such as Orascom could make those smaller firms takeover targets.

Index of stories

TABLE: The top 10 Middle Eastern operators in terms of market capitalisation ($bn)

Company Market capitalisation ($bn)
Saudi Telecom 34.9
Etisalat 29.7
Zain 24.2
Maroc Telecom 20.9
Orascom Telecom 9.8
Telecommunications Company 7.4
Qtel 6.8
Etihad Etisalat 5.9
Mobinil 2.4
Paltel not disclosed

Sources: Sico, Bourse de Casablanca, Cairo & Alexandria Stock Exchanges, Tehran Stock Exchange