Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 3 May 2017 01:58 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Qatar's Ooredoo to shun telco deals to focus on key markets

Telecoms operator says it wants to concentrate on 10 countries where it operates rather than grow through acquisitions

Qatar's Ooredoo to shun telco deals to focus on key markets

Ooredoo, the Qatari-owned phone carrier, wants to focus on the 10 countries where it operates rather than grow through acquisitions in the telecommunications business, according to Deputy Chief Executive Officer Waleed Al Sayed.

Ooredoo, the sixth-biggest telecommunications company in the Middle East and Africa, has no plans to buy phone carriers although it is considering purchases in technology services, Al Sayed said in a phone interview from Doha. Ooredoo is currently negotiating to buy a majority stake in Salam Technology, and the deal may close in the second quarter, he said.

The company grew in the past decade from its base in Qatar to serve about 150 million customers from Algeria to Myanmar, largely through acquisitions. First-quarter revenue rose 2 percent to 8 billion Qatari riyals ($2.2 billion), driven by growth in Qatar, Indonesia and Oman, the company reported April 27.

Sales increased amid tough competition for consumers, and was in contrast to other providers that had shrinking revenue, Al Sayed said.

"Our strategy is that we aren’t going to think about geographic expansion," the deputy CEO said. "We are going to strengthen our footprint."

A subdued acquisition strategy also means Ooredoo won’t be issuing bonds or taking out new loans. The company plans to repay rather than refinance a $1.25 billion sukuk, or Islamic bond, due in 2018, Al Sayed said.

Ooredoo is on track to reach its 2017 revenue and earnings guidance, he said. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization are forecast to be unchanged to up 3 percent, while revenue will decline 1 percent or grow as much as 2 percent, he said.

For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.