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DUBAI, UAE, April 10, 2011 - Middle East telecom operators will continue to lead international growth efforts via mergers and acquisitions, despite the increased cost of capital since the outbreak of political unrest in the region and North Africa, according to key regional players, investment bankers, and industry experts.
“M&A will be driven by new opportunities created by private equity exiting the industry, in-market consolidation and the emergence of new globalizing groups entering the emerging markets,” said Ghassan Hasbani, CEO, STC International.
Speaking in advance of the leading industry event, TMT Finance Middle East 2011 Conference & Awards Ceremony, taking place in Dubai at the Ritz Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre on May 9-10, Mr Hasbani outlined how financing challenges would be met.
"Financing is now available with attractive terms to operators, however, creative vendor financing may take a higher importance over the next few years, provided it is in a form that helps operators improve their debt profile," said Hasbani, who will speak on the Global Telecom Strategy Round Table, the opening session of the conference, which features leaders from regional operators including Batelco, Etisalat, STC and Qtel.
The annual regional telecoms event, which uniquely gathers telecom leaders, investment bankers, investors and advisers, will feature 10 key panels sessions and over 50 executive speakers debating the latest strategies for investment, financing and M&A across the sector.
Speakers include Saud Al Daweesh, Executive President and CEO of Saudi Telecom Company (STC); Ahmad Abdelkarim Julfar, Group COO, Etisalat; Peter Kaliaropolous, CEO, Batelco Group; Simon Holden, Global co-Head of Telecoms, Goldman Sachs International; Ragnar Meitern, Managing Director, TMT, Standard Chartered; Joachim Fleury, Global Head of TMT, Clifford Chance; and Erik Arveschoug, Head of Strategic Coverage, CEEMEA, Citi.
Global strategies for mergers and acquisitions will be a key theme for the conference with an M&A Advisers Panel assessing how consolidation will shape international markets. There will also be the presentation of the annual awards for Telecom Deal of the Year, M&A Adviser of the Year, Debt Bank and Emerging Market Growth Story of the Year at the TMT Finance Middle East Awards Dinner on May 9.

“There is a great deal of positive momentum among key Middle East telecom operators who are pressing on with expansive strategies, as shown by STC and Qtel submitting bids for the third Syrian mobile licence auction last week,” said Dominic Lowndes, Managing Director of BroadGroup TMT Ventures, the organisers of the conference, and Editor of TMT Finance News Alert. “Although there is a short term requirement to manage risk, the region does not need lots of external capital to grow, so we expect a strong continued flow of activity.”
Investment bankers predict that medium term, the focus will be on in-market mid-cap consolidation, with a propensity for share for share transactions driving synergies. “Infrastructure sales will also drive deals, especially across African telecom portfolios” added Lowndes. “The pressure to pursue deals in emerging markets is also being maintained by the major European operators such as France Telecom, which is actively pursuing acquisitions in the Middle East and Africa; Vodafone, which has a strong presence in Africa and Asia; and Telefonica.”

Further information:

The TMT Finance Middle East 2011 Conference & Awards Ceremony at the Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre on May 9-10, 2011 (www.tmtfinance.com/me) will include expert debate on Global Strategy from CEOs of leading Middle East telecom and media companies, and Heads of TMT (telecom media and technology) from the leading Investment banks, law firms and private equity investors and specialist advisers operating in the region.

Now in its fifth year, the conference is the premier gathering for executives and advisers active in transactions in mature and emerging markets of the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Renowned is a thought leader event which has significant influence on strategic decision making the event is supported this year by STC as Main Event Sponsor, Booz & Company, Clifford Chance LLP, SNR Denton LLP and Capital MS&L.

Key sessions include: a global telecom strategy round table; an M&A panel; a CFO panel; a finance raising/growth strategy panel; a panel on leadership strategies for next generation businesses; a debate on media and convergence – who should control content; a session on regulation and growth, and their impact on strategy; a session on investing in next generation networks; a session discussing the opportunities in infrastructure sharing; and a session on who will lead the growth in mobile.

Nominations for this year’s awards can be made before April 14 at http://www.tmtfinance.com/me/awardsnominations/default.aspx

Last year’s winners included:

• Telecom M&A Adviser of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 - Standard Chartered
• Telecom Debt Bank of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 - RBS
• Telecom Deal of the Year Middle East 2010 – Winner 2010 - Qtel US$1.5bn inaugural bond, arranged by Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, DBS Group, JPMorgan and RBS
• Mobile Operator of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 – Qtel
• Broadband Operator of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 – STC
• Technology Provider of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 - Nokia Siemens Networks
• Software Solution of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 – TechManhindra
• Outstanding TMT Leader of the Year (CEO) Award - Winner 2010 - Dr. Nasser Marafih, (CEO) Qtel
• Emerging Markets Growth Story of the Year Award - Winner 2010 – Etisalat
• Telecom Law Firm of the Year Middle East - Winner 2010 - Clifford Chance LLP


Press enquiries:
James Hawksworth
James.hawksworth@capitalmsl.com
T: +971 55 2111 658

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