Batelco plans to increase stakes in affiliates

Batelco plans to increase stakes in affiliates

Bahraini carrier Batelco has reportedly announced its intention to increase its stakes in affiliates to maximise control and returns from the operations.

The move would follow similar steps by other Middle Eastern carriers like Qtel, which recently agreed to increase its stakes in Kuwait’s Wataniya and Iraq’s Asiacell.

"If opportunities such as what Qtel has done with Wataniya come along with any of our portfolio holdings, of course we will look at it favourably," Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Batelco group CEO, told reporters in Dubai, according to Reuters.

Batelco’s holdings include 27% of Yemani mobile operator Sabafon, minority stakes in ISPs in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and full ownership of Jordan’s Umniah.

The carrier is also in talks with Cable & Wireless Communications to acquire the company’s assets in Monaco and several island nations for approximately $1 billion.

This year Batelco decided to pull out of India, where it owned a 43% stake in mobile operator S Tel. The decison followed the stripping of the operator’s licences after a Supreme Court decision, and will see Batelco retain $175 million for the stake from its local partner. This is due to be received at the end of the month.

Sheikh Mohamed said that Batelco was keen to re-enter India for the right price, but expressed concern over the lack of clarity as to how the market is going to develop.

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