By David Ingham
Italy-based Acotel has taken a 100% stake in Info2Cell, the regional wireless content developer, in a multi-million dollar deal.
Acotel’s 100% acquisition of DIC-based Info2Cell, first predicted in Arabian Business magazine one month ago, is now official.The value of the acquisition was not disclosed, but sources say that Acotel has valued Info2Cell at the same level it did when it paid $4 million for a 33% stake two years ago. That puts the value of Info2Cell at $12 million and this latest transaction at $8 million.“We have noted with increasing interest the exponential growth in mobile communications in the Middle East and have been toying with the idea of entering this market on a large scale,” said Claudio Carnevale, CEO and chairman of Acotel Group.“The vibrant energy displayed by Info2cell.com in introducing messaging products to mobile phone users in the region and the company’s speedy growth encouraged us to believe that Info2cell.com is the right platform from which Acotel can target the growing list of mobile subscribers in the Middle East,” he added.Info2Cell, which will be renamed Acotel Middle East, will continue with its core business of providing WAP, SMS and MMS content to service providers like Etisalat and Fastlink. Now, however, it will have the additional resources of Acotel to call upon and will take on regional responsibility for Acotel’s Jinny business unit, which develops underlying wireless technology.Around 100,000 users in six countries have already signed up to receive Info2Cell’s SMS breaking news alerts from their GSM provider. Acotel Middle East aims to reach 250,000 registered subscribers by the end of 2003 and 500,000 by the end of 2004.“We feel proud that Acotel, one of the biggest wireless application service providers in the world, has realised the potential of Info2cell.com and is now making further investments to power its future growth,” said Bashar Dahabra, founder and CEO of Info2cell.com. “This certainly augurs well for the development of the region’s wireless information services.”