France Telecom invests €175m in Iraqi operator Korek

France Telecom Orange is going to pump a $245 million (€175 million) investment into Iraq's third-largest mobile operator, Korek Telecom, confirming rumors from November that the French operator was interested in buying a minority stake in Korek.

France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard told the Financial Times that the company's acquisition of a 20 per cent indirect stake in Korek represents "a new step in our policy of expansion outside Europe." The operator had indicated in the middle of last year that it would look for growth opportunities in the Middle East and Africa, and would like to double its revenue in the region by 2015.

The Korek deal is being financed as part of a joint venture with Agility, a Kuwaiti logistics company, which will hold a 24 per cent indirect stake. France Telecom is also extending a $185 million (€132 million) four-year shareholder loan to Korek.

Korek is a junior player in Iraq with around 3 million mobile customers, compared with Zain's 11.8 million and AsiaCell's 7.9 million. While the company has a licence to provide national coverage, it presently provides services mainly to the northern regions of Iraq, where 80 per cent of its customers are based.

For more:
- see this Financial Times article

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