Telecoms & ITC
Abu Dhabi: Satellite telecommunications
Telecommunications development in Abu Dhabi, an integral part of government policy, was given a boost recently when regulators issued the UAE's first individual license for multipurpose satellite services. As part of its Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, released early last year, policy experts highlighted telecommunications as one of the many areas in which the capital envisages future growth. "The emirate's geographical position in the Middle East and its current well-developed telecoms network are important competitive advantages enabling the next phase of sector growth," the Vision 2030 brief states. "Regionally, telecoms is seen as a strong growth sector, with fast-increasing penetration rates for both mobile phones and PCs, and a rapidly increasing number of users." Taking these factors into consideration, it is of little surprise that the Telecoms regulator is keen for further expansion. A 10-year license to install, operate and manage a public telecommunications network and provide satellite telecom services was granted to Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on February 28. Yahsat, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company, an Abu Dhabi government investor, will pay an expected US$27,224 a year in licensing fees. The company will target its hybrid satellite communications services to commercial and governmental clients in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South-west Asia. With the Abu Dhabi government clearly behind a serious push towards ICT development, this growing sector could undergo considerable expansion over the coming years. As high-technology projects, such as Yashat's satellites, provide a solid footing - one unlikely to be impacted by negative economic cycles - so both the region and consumer stand to benefit from the expected knock-on effects on products and services. (Source: OBG)
India's Bharti Airtel finalizes funding for Zain Africa deal
Indian telecommunications giant Bharti Airtel Limited announced that it had finalized funding worth US$8.3 billion for its proposed acquisition of Zain Telecom's African unit. Bharti is currently engaged in exclusive talks with Kuwait-based Zain to acquire its African operations. The talks are set to expire on March 25. "The financing was over-subscribed with major international banks committing to underwrite the total amount," Bharti said in a statement. Major international banks and the State Bank of India had agreed to underwrite the funding, the company said. SingTel, Southeast Asia's largest telecommunications firm, has a 32 per cent stake in Bharti. Bharti's board gave its formal approval to the company's management to conclude the final acquisition of Zain's Africa assets, the financial daily Economic Times reported. Bharti has been looking to invest in overseas markets for a while. Its merger talks with Africa's MTN fell through in September 2009. Economic Times quoted company sources as saying that a final offer to Zain would be made by the end of March. If the deal goes through, Bharti will gain access to 42 million subscribers in 15 African countries through Zain.