By Andy Sambidge
Shareholders approve Bahrain telco's planned acquisition as part of overseas growth
Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) on Monday said its shareholders have voted to approve a move to buy various companies from Cable & Wireless Communications.
The move is part of the Bahrain telco's strategy for growth overseas in a bid to offset falling revenue and market share at home.
Batelco, which is debt-free, has reported falling profit in nine of the past ten quarters and this slump has led it to expand abroad, although its moves so far have been limited to Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Now it is set to complete a deal for CWC's Monaco and Islands division following the vote by shareholders.
The proposed acquisition includes the entire CWC interest in the Maldives, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the Seychelles, South Atlantic and Diego Garcia as well as a 25 percent shareholding in Compagnie Monagesque de Communications, which holds CWC's 55 percent interest in Monaco Telecom.
In addition, Batelco said it has entered into "put and call" arrangements in relation to CWC's remaining 75 percent interest in CMC, allowing Batelco to acquire a controlling interest in Monaco Telecom.
Batelco Group chairman, Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, said: "The board of directors of Batelco Group is delighted that our shareholders have shown support for this transformative acquisition, which will see the company emerge as an international telecommunications company of reference.
"We have been pursuing a strategy of diversification and this acquisition will greatly further our efforts to both broaden our geographic footprint as well as add important new revenue streams."
Batelco Group CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa added: "This transaction is instrumental in our efforts to continue to increase the scale of our operations and further build our leadership in our six existing markets throughout the Middle East as well as on a global basis.
"The expansion of our network and reach not only provides for significant benefits to customers, it also enables us to achieve synergies and reach greater efficiencies in our operations. We are excited to enter a phase of development and to maximise the opportunities for growth that lie ahead."
Shareholders also approved the issuance by the company of debt instruments up to a value of $1bn.
The acquisition remains subject to respective consents and approvals from regulators.