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Thu 19 Apr 2007 10:30 AM

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Batelco secures expansion funds

Bahraini telecommunications service provider Batelco has secured a US$485million loan to fund its regional expansion plans, it announced last week.

Bahraini telecommunications service provider Batelco has secured a US$485million loan to fund its regional expansion plans, it announced last week.

The Arab Banking Corperation (ABC) and Standard Chartered have agreed to act as underwriters for the loan, and 14 other banking institutions have also lent their support, the operator said.

"The loan facility will enable Batelco to realise its aspirations to grow the company regionally and become an increasingly dominant force in the integrated communications industry in Bahrain and MENA," Batelco chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said.

The loan, which was oversubscribed by 60%, will be used to fund Batelco's expansion activities outside of Bahrain as the operator gears up for greater competition at home.

Regional expansion is an ongoing strategy for Batelco: the firm acquired 20% of Yemen mobile operator Sabafon in March this year, and 96% of Jordan mobile operator Umniah in 2006.

In a statement announcing the loan, Batelco CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos said the firm would be targeting the acquisitions of other operators and licences.

"Whilst our origins are in Bahrain... we also have to tap into growing markets larger than Bahrain either directly or with partners and this loan facility will enable us to realise our ambitions," he said.

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