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France Telecom Mulling Iraqi Investment

25 ноября 2010

France Telecom is reported to be in talks to purchase a stake in Iraq's Korek Telecom, in a deal that could give the Iraqi mobile operator an enterprise value of US$1.5 billion.

Although no deal has been finalised, France Telecom is interested in eventually securing a controlling stake in Korek, reports the Financial Times.

The potential for the company to invest in Iraq was originally suggested back in May when the company said it was interested in a stake in an unnamed Iraqi operator - but presumed at the time to be Korek Telecom.

The news also suggests that the long-running talks between Etisalat and Korek Telecom that started back in late 2008, and were still ongoing earlier this year, have finally broken down.

Korek was founded in 2000 by Sirwan Mustafa, who is its sole shareholder and nephew of Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

The country has three operators, Zain, Asiacell and Korek Telecom. Asiacell is actually a consortium is comprised of Asiacell Iraq - the earlier license holder, Qatar's Qtel and investment banking group, MerchantBridge. Orascom owned the Iraqna network, but failed to get an operating license in the last round of auctions and had tried to set up a joint venture with Korek Telecom but that fell apart. The break-down has left Korek with a national license, but coverage which is limited to mainly the Northern region of the country. An expansion to national coverage would need the financial muscle of an outside partner. Iraqna was later sold to Zain.

The networks are also required to eventually list at least 25 percent of its shares on the Iraqi Stock Exchange as a condition of their licenses.

Источник: Cellular news

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