Qatar Telecom to bid for Lebanon telco stake
Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel) said on Wednesday it planned to bid for a stake in one of two Lebanese mobile phone firms as part of plans to expand in the Middle East and Asia.
Lebanon expects to sell majority stakes in Alfa and MTC Touch in February and offer the rest to the public to raise as much as $7 billion, the country's telecommunications minister said in October.
"We will bid," said Adel al-Mutawa, Qtel's executive director for group communications. When asked which company Qtel would bid for, Mutawa said, "We are still evaluating."
"We're looking at any opportunities for expansion in MENA and Asia and Lebanon is going to be the first potential market in the region," he said, declining to give more details.
Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) had said on Monday it was considering a bid to take over one of the firms.
Lebanon wants to use the funds to pay off huge public debts.
Any winning bid would have to get final approval from the country's president, the telecommunications minister has said.
Lebanon's Western-backed ruling coalition and the pro-Syrian Hezbollah-led opposition have been locked in a power-sharing dispute, virtually paralysing the country.
"Political stability has a very important role in the (bidding) process," Mutawa said.
Qtel said this month it was planning more acquisitions after its $3.7 billion purchase of a Kuwaiti operator and is mulling sales of shares in Qatar, depositary receipts in London or bonds as funding options. (Reuters)
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