Algerian mobile operator Djezzy added 1 million customers this year

Djezzy, Algeria’s No. 2 mobile operator, has seven million smart phones users. (Reuters)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Algerian mobile operator Djezzy added 1 million customers this year

  • Djezzy, or Optimum Telecom Algérie, will have 16 million subscribers by the end of 2018
  • The rate of penetration of smartphones in Algeria is around 40 percent, much lower than in other Arab countries

ALGIERS: Algerian mobile telecoms operator Djezzy has added 1 million customers this year and plans to further invest to offer more online payment services, its CEO said.
Djezzy, or Optimum Telecom Algérie, will have 16 million subscribers by the end of 2018, up from 15 million a year ago and including seven million smart phones users, said Matthieu Galvani.
Djezzy is Algeria’s No. 2 mobile operator, behind state-owned Mobilis, and also competes with Qatar’s Ooredoo.
It is owned by Egypt’s Global Telecom Holding (GTH) , in which Dutch-based Veon, formerly know as VimpelCom, has a 57.7 percent stake.
Galvani declined to give a forecast for next year, saying only the potential was huge as the government was planning to make more online payment services available.
Some government bodies and even banks in Algeria still use the fax to communicate with the world. Online payments are very limited and such services require special central bank approval.
However, authorities plan to expand the network as part of efforts to boost private investment and lower the country’s dependency on oil and gas revenues.
To tap into this nascent market Djezzy will invest more after spending 30 billion dinars ($253 million) in the past two years to become an online business platform, Galvani said, declining to give a figure.
“The potential of (Algeria’s population of around) 40 million people once it goes digital is huge, so we need to be ready, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created,” he said.
Other shareholders in Djezzy are a state-owned fund called FNI with 51 percent and CEVITAL, a local private company, which owns 3.3 percent.
The rate of penetration of smartphones in Algeria is around 40 percent now, according to official figures, much lower than in other Arab countries.
The rate for mobile phones is 111 percent.
Algeria has the slowest fixed Internet speed connection in the world at 3.5 megabits per second (mbps), compared to world leader Singapore with 161.2 mbps, according to 2018 Digital yearbook.
Mobile connections are faster at 7.4 mpbs but even then only seven other countries offer slower services, according to Digital yearbook.


Confident Al-Falih holds out hope for early Aramco IPO

Updated 35 min 2 sec ago
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Confident Al-Falih holds out hope for early Aramco IPO

  • Speaking at the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Al-Falih said that preparations for a listing of Aramco shares — an initial public offering (IPO) — could happen ‘sooner than you think’
  • The listing has been slated for 2021 according to government and company announcements, but Al-Falih’s comments raise the possibility that it could be brought forward to next year

RIYADH: Khalid Al-Falih, the Kingdom’s energy minister and chairman of Saudi Aramco, held out the tantalizing prospect that the giant oil company’s long-planned stock market listing could happen ahead of the previously announced schedule.
Speaking at the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Al-Falih said that preparations for a listing of Aramco shares — an initial public offering (IPO) — could happen “sooner than you think” and that a prospectus for the listing could come “in the not too distant future.”
The listing has been slated for 2021 according to government and company announcements, but Al-Falih’s comments raise the possibility that it could be brought forward to next year, though the minister added the caveat that it could also be later. “That’s the announced date but it could slip a little bit, it could come forward a little bit,” he said.
The successful completion of a $12 billion international bond by Aramco, which attracted more than eight times that amount in interest from investors, has given Aramco a new confidence in international capital markets, in equity as well as bonds.
Al-Falih also said that the intended acquisition of petrochemicals giant SABIC from the Public Investment Fund would also increase its capital-raising ability.
“When the Aramco-SABIC acquisition is consummated — we hope by the end of this year — it will not only be the largest oil company and gas company by a large margin, but also with the combined company will be a very large company in refining and petrochemicals. So its capital base is going to grow and I think right that its balance sheet has an appropriate level of debt.
“Even if Saudi Aramco stays at the lower end of gearing among its peers, it still has the capacity to offer a lot of debt instruments going forward. So I can tell you for sure that the $12 billion is only the beginning, not the end. It establishes Aramco’s presence in the market,” he added.

 

Al-Falih also indicated that the large amount of disclosure required for the bond issue would be used in the IPO preparation.
“Now that the company has been exposed, investors have reacted so enthusiastically to the company and its quality. We’ve seen the reserves, we’ve seen the financials, we’ve seen the quality in terms of its departmental performance and its safety performance, human capital capability and technology, all of this is appealing.
“It’s been exposed and documented in the prospectus for the bonds and it will be exposed even more in the equity prospectus to come in the not-too-distant future.”
Al-Falih made it clear, however, that the IPO had to await full completion of the merger with SABIC: “Once we’ve done that, the financials are consolidated and exposed to the investors, essentially all the practical steps for
the IPO have been taken both by the company and by the government. So I think we can hit the ground running once we close on SABIC.”
He added that he hoped for speedy approval from regulators for the merger. Finance experts at the conference said that Al-Falih’s comments showed that Aramco and the Saudi government were committed to listing the company, but were skeptical over whether the IPO could happen next year, given the need for full incorporation of SABIC.
“Given the express desire to complete the SABIC deal, it will be challenging to accelerate the time line of the IPO before 2021,” Jamal Al-Kishi, chief executive of Deutsche Bank in the Middle East and Africa, told Arab News. “But I have very little doubt the company will be floated,” he added.
Tarek Fadlallah, chief executive officer of Nomura Asset Management in the region, said: “It seems unlikely that it can take place in 2020 because they’ll want to demonstrate a full year of integration and collaboration with SABIC.”

FACTOID

The completion of a $12 billion international bond by Aramco has given it a new confidence in global capital markets.