GIC to invest US$50 million in Virgin Mobile MEA

mobileVMMEA was formed last year through the merger of Dubai-based Friendi Group and Virgin Mobile’s operation in South Africa. (Image source: Kulo T/sxc.hu)Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) has announced that it is set to invest US$50mn in Dubai-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA)

When the deal is complete, GIC and Virgin Group are expected be the two biggest single shareholders in VMMEA, alongside regional shareholders including, ePlanet Capital, Dolphin International, NTEC and Millennium Private Equity, according to company press release.

VMMEA was formed last year through the merger of Dubai-based Friendi Group and Virgin Mobile’s operation in South Africa.

“Virgin Mobile is the leading MVNO operator in the Middle East and Africa with operations in Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and South Africa," said Virgin founder, Richard Branson.

"We intend to create a large regional mobile telecom player reaching more than 10mn customers. The investment by GIC is an important show of support by an important institutional investor for our ambitious plans.”

Ibrahim Al-Qadhi, CEO at GIC, added that GIC supported the growth of companies that have innovative and pan-regional business models.

"VMMEA has such a model and targets a niche market in telecommunications in the GCC," he said. "This is an important sector for the region and VMMEA is the perfect partner for existing mobile operators.”

Mikkel Vinter, founder of VMMEA, said that the next phase of liberalisation in the MEA region’s telecoms sector looked set to support the growth of MVNOs.

“We are thrilled to make this strategic investment in VMMEA," he said. “The company has a great track record of partnering with regional telecom operators to deliver value to mobile subscribers.

"We look forward to working with the management team in VMMEA to support the further expansion of its existing operations as well as entering new markets across the region."

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