Omantel poised for Pakistan acquisition

Company also eyes further expansion opportunities in Gulf region.

Omantel has confirmed it is set to finalise the acquisition of a majority stake in a Pakistan-based network operator this month with speculation the target may be a company called Worldcall.

"Omantel is currently studying plans to enter into competition to purchase a share in a Pakistani telecoms company," read a company statement released last month. Media reports suggest that long distance and international and wireless local loop service provider Worldcall is the likely acquisition target.

Omantel president Mohammed Al-Wohaibi denied that his company was interested in acquiring Pakistan mobile operator Warid Telecom, which is backed by the Abu Dhabi Group. Omantel did confirm, however, that it was in negotiations to buy a minority stake in an Arab telecoms operation.

Al-Wohaibi said these developments were part of a renewed expansion for the company following its loss of monopoly in 2005, with the entry of Qtel-backed Nawras. "We are facing competition in the mobile segment and will soon be facing competition in fixed-line services and the market is very small," commented Al-Wohaibi, justifying his company's interest in investments outside of Oman.

Omantel's financial results for 1Q07 saw the operator rack up net profit of US$62.5 million after tax, representing a 12.7% increase for the year-ago period. The telco's revenues also grew 10% year-on-year to US$222.5 million during the surveyed period, up from US$202.5 million in 1Q06.

Operating expenses increased 10.2 % to US$152 million compared with US$137.9 million to the year-ago period.

The company claimed its increase in operating expenses was due to its preparations for the expected competition in fixed-line services later this year.

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