Algeria takes aim at Wataniya's Nedjma

Qtel's plan to raise Wataniya stake threatens despute over Nedjma ownership
Qtel may have to sell Wataniya's Algerian unit, reports indicate.
Qtel may have to sell Wataniya's Algerian unit, reports indicate.

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Algerian mobile operator Nedjma, which is part of Kuwait’s Wataniya, could find itself at the centre of an ownership battle with the Algerian government, according to a report from Reuters.

The potential dispute arose after Qatar’s Qtel Group gained approval to buy the remaining 47.5% stake that it does not already own in Wataniya for $2.2 billion.

Algeria would exercise its right of first refusal to take control of Nedjma if Qtel goes ahead with the deal, Algeria’s finance minister said earlier this week.

Algeria’s government is permitted to take a majority stake following any transaction to sell shares in foreign businesses, the report stated.

"If Qtel buys Wataniya completely, so there is a change of ownership... there is a rule that applies: 41/59%," Finance Minister Karim Djoudi said, according to Algeria’s official APS news agency.

Nedjma is the third mobile operator in Algeria and competes with Orascom Telecom’s Djezzy and Mobilis, which is the mobile arm of Algerie Telecom.

Algeria has already exercised this right with Orascom Telecom’s Algerian operation, Djezzy. The government took aim at the unit after Russia’s VimpelCom acquired Orascom Telecom in 2011.

Algeria will pay $6.5 billion to acquire a controlling 51% stake in Djezzy, VimpelCom's Algerian mobile operation, it was reported in March.


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