x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bahrain's Batelco to buy Cable & Wireless assets worth up to $1bn

Batelco is to buy the UK telecoms firm's operations in Monaco and a host of island nations for $680m, with an additional $345m option agreement.

The Bahraini telecoms firm Batelco is to acquire assets owned by the United Kingdom's Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in a deal worth up to US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn).

Batelco is to acquire CWC's Monaco and Islands division for $680 million, as well as an additional $345m option agreement to buy further assets, it said yesterday.

The acquisition, which is subject to shareholder approval, would boost the number of markets in which Bahrain's state-controlled telecoms provider operates from six to 17, said Batelco.

The deal includes CWC's assets in the Maldives, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the Seychelles, South Atlantic and Diego Garcia.

Batelco will also buy a 25 per cent shareholding in Compagnie Monagésque de Communications (CMC), which holds CWC's 55 per cent interest in Monaco Telecom.

Monaco Telecom holds a 36.8 per cent stake in Roshan, a mobile phone operator in Afghanistan.

Batelco also entered into option agreements over CWC's remaining 75 per cent interest in CMC for an additional $345m.

The options can be exercised within a year from the closure of the deal, said Batelco.

"The total consideration for the entire Monaco & Islands division will be [$1.02bn]," it said.

Batelco has businesses in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and Egypt.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, the chief executive of Batelco, said the acquisition would more than double the number of markets in which the group operates. "We are pleased to announce this acquisition, which will increase the scale and diversification of our operations.

"Batelco Group will have the opportunity to operate, in collaboration with its new business partners, across 17 markets," he said.

Batelco said it planned to raise as much as $1bn of debt through a bond issue and a term-loan facility to finance the transaction.

It has appointed BNP Paribas and Citigroup to arrange the financing.

Batelco aimed to make at least one acquisition this year to offset falling domestic revenue, its chief executive told Reuters in April.

It had cash and bank balances of $286m last year, according to its annual report, and could leverage its balance sheet to $1bn or more for acquisitions.

* with Reuters