Batelco in talks to buy CWC's Monaco unit
, September 17, 2012
Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) today confirmed that the regional telecommunications operator has expressed interest to buy a unit of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC).
The group was responding to reports that it was in talks to acquire the Monaco and Islands business unit of CWC.
“We note recent reports in the press and confirm that we have expressed an interest to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) to enter into a transaction involving their Monaco and Islands business unit, a division of CWC.
"At this point, there can be no certainty that this will lead to a transaction. A further announcement will be made in due course if appropriate,” stated Batelco Group chief executive Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, in a statement.
The CWC assets in Monaco and a host of island nations is potentially worth around $1 billion, Reuters said quoting three banking and industry sources.
CWC also confirmed Batelco had approached it for the assets, saying there was no guarantee talks would lead to a deal. CWC's share rose 4.08 percent in London.
BNP Paribas and Citigroup are advising Batelco on the transaction, while J P Morgan Chase is advising the seller, two of the banking sources said.
Citi is leading financing efforts for the transaction, according to one banker.
"Batelco has been keen to do a deal for a while now to address falling home revenue. A potential deal to buy CWC assets should give them presence in markets they are not in currently," one the sources said.
Monaco & Islands operates in 12 markets, including the Maldives, Seychelles and Falkland Islands, and offers fixed-line, mobile, broadband and television services. Its brands include Monaco Telecom, Dhiraagu in the Maldives, and Sure in Britain's Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
Monaco Telecom also holds a 36.8 percent stake in Roshan, a mobile phone operator in Afghanistan.
The CWC unit generated $586 million revenue in the group's 2011/12 year when it had earnings before interest, dividend, tax and amortisation of $186 million, according to its website.
Monaco & Islands had 543,000 mobile subscribers as of end-March and 125,000 fixed-line subscribers.
Batelco aims to make at least one acquisition in 2012 to offset falling domestic revenue, its chief executive told Reuters in April.
It had cash and bank balances of $286 million, according to its 2011 annual report, and could leverage its balance sheet to $1 billion or more for acquisitions, the CEO said.
The company teamed up with Saudi group Kingdom Holding to buy a 25 percent stake in Zain Saudi last year but the deal failed due to disagreements with the indebted Saudi telco's banks.
Batelco owns Jordanian telecoms operator Umniah. It holds 27 percent of Yemeni mobile operator Sabafon, minority stakes in internet providers in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and is also active in Egypt.
On July 3, European Union regulators cleared British mobile provider Vodafone's 1 billion pound acquisition of fixed-line network operator Cable & Wireless Worldwide.
CWW, which split from CWC two years ago, provides voice, data and hosting services to British government departments and companies while its cables span the globe. - TradeArabia News Service and Reuters
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