The State of Qatar has approached Dubai-based Saudi Oger with a view to acquiring a 55% stake in its UAE-based holding company Oger Telecom, Reuters reports. Oger’s principal subsidiaries are Turk Telekom (and its mobile unit Avea), in which Oger holds a 55% stake; South African mobile operator Cell C (75%); and Cyberia, an internet service provider (ISP) with a presence in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan (95%). An anonymous source close to the deal told the news agency: ‘It is a complicated deal, but the Qataris have shown their interest by going to the [Al Thani] family straight. Going by the strength of their wallet, this is something they could pull off. There is no guarantee that the approach will lead to a deal, given heightened execution risk due to market volatility’.
Any deal is likely to be complicated by the involvement of Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Oger’s second largest (35%) shareholder, which has first refusal – up to a certain price – should Oger be put up for sale. Credit Suisse, which is acting on behalf of Qatar, declined to comment on the speculation, as did representatives for Oger and STC. The Saudi firm, which acquired its current stake in Oger Telecom for USD2.6 billion in 2008, is being advised by Goldman Sachs. Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the Gulf state’s most prominent telecoms operator, is not currently involved in the process, sources said, but may well take up a role once any deal is completed.