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Sun 22 Jan 2012 07:04 PM

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Qatar's Qtel in talks to buy Asiacell stake

Telco's chairman says discussions have been held to buy 19% stake in Iraqi unit

Qatar's Qtel in talks to buy Asiacell stake
Qtel is in talks to buy a stake in its Iraqi unit

Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the Gulf country’s biggest company by revenue, had held talks to buy a 19 percent stake in its Iraqi unit Asiacell from Merchant Bridge, the Doha-based company’s chairman said.

“We are working on this,” Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani told reporters at a company event in Doha. “We’ve been talking and we will continue to talk.”

Qtel has sought to expand outside its home market, where it faces increased competition since Vodafone Qatar entered the market in 2009.

Qtel and Princesse Holding of Tunisia agreed to buy Orascom Telecom Holding SAE’s 50 percent stake in Tunisiana for $1.2bn in 2010.

Qtel owns a 30 percent stake in Asiacell, according to the Qatari company’s 2010 annual report.

The Iraqi business accounted for 18 percent of Qtel’s revenue in 2010, according to the company’s financial statements.

Morgan Stanley will assist Qtel on the stake increase and Credit Suisse will advise London- based MerchantBridge, Reuters reported on January 19, citing unidentified people.

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