Thursday, April 20, 2006

Celtel International BV, Africa’s third-largest mobile-services provider, has agreed to buy 65% of Nigeria’s Vmobile for just over $1 billion, Celtel’s Kuwaiti parent said.

Mobile Telecommunications Co. said in a statement on the Kuwaiti stock-exchange Web site that the deal includes an option for the purchase of the remaining 35% of Nigeria’s third-largest mobile-phone operator.

The deal would be the latest for fast-expanding MTC, which has at least 15 million subscribers in Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, MTC bought Celtel for $3.36 billion.

An MTC official in Kuwait said his company sees tremendous potential in Nigeria, which has a population of about 140 million and a low mobile-phone usage rate. “Vmobile is a company that has had some difficulty in the recent past, but it has a lot of potential and, with the right ownership and a capital injection, it can probably regain its stature in the Nigerian market,” the official added.

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Source: Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)