Qatar Telecom eyes higher stake in Liberty

By : |October 12, 2010 0

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) is interested in raising its stake in the Philippines’ Liberty Telecoms and is in talks with partner San Miguel Corp to expand the venture, its chairman said on Wednesday.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saud Al-Thani told reporters at a conference Qtel was committed to its investments in the Southeast Asian country and was seeking to expand its presence in Asia.

Qtel holds 32.7 percent of Liberty and San Miguel, one of the Philippines’ oldest conglomerates, holds 33 percent. Liberty, which was a dormant listed firm prior to Qtel and San Miguel’s investment last year, focuses on wireless broadband services.

Liberty has a market value of nearly $110 million.

"We created a good bond between the two companies," Al-Thani said. "We are exploring with them more and more investments in telecoms and in the future of the technology."

"It’s not only the mobile business but into more of the IT and the telecoms sector," he said. "We are in discussion and hopefully we would come to an understanding of what’s the plan for the future."

Liberty Telecoms, via its Wi-Tribe brand, launched its 4G broadband service in February, hoping to capture market share in the sector. Broadband subscribers comprise only around 3 million of the country’s 94 million population.

"We don’t see that there is anything stopping us from partnering and exploring more business with San Miguel," Al-Thani said. "It’s not the financials, but it’s about what the opportunities are and the working environment."

Qtel controls PT Indosat, Indonesia’s No. 2 mobile provider, and earlier this year said it was looking for acquisitions in Asia and the Middle East.

State-controlled Qtel has been expanding rapidly outside its home market, aiming to join the ranks of the world’s top 20 telecoms firms by 2020. It raised $1.5 billion last week via a bond sale to fund operations and refinance debt.

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