Batelco partners with Sabafon [Archives:2007/1038/Local News]

April 2 2007

SANA'A, March 25 – Al-Ahmar Group Chairman Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar signed a partnership agreement March 25 with Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, chairman of Batelco telecommunications company, securing the Bahrain firm's purchase of 20 percent of Sabafon shares.

Batelco purchased the shares from Al-Ahmar Group, Sabafon's largest shareholder; however, Al-Ahmar Group still owns the largest share in the company.

Sabafon, Yemen's leading GSM service provider, is considered the largest operator of GSM services, covering most Yemeni areas using more than 500 satellite relay stations. According to company officials, Sabafon had 1.2 million subscribers as of the end of February.

The Yemeni telecommunications firm began operating Feb. 14, 2001, focusing from the very beginning on supplying high-quality service and advancing to possess 40 percent of Yemen's mobile phone shares.

Celebrating the occasion, Al-Khalifa noted that his firm has developed a strategy for immature markets in the Middle East, focusing on areas with increasing growth in broadband services. He further maintained that Batelco's partnership with Sabafon is in line with its strategy and provides the required framework for its future development.

Al-Ahmar pointed out that the deal reflects the depth of relations between Yemen and Bahrain and other Gulf nations, asserting that the partnership is thanks to Yemen and Gulf countries' efforts to integrate the Yemeni economy with those of the Gulf.

He added, “We're happy to engage in a partnership with Batelco. We preferred their bid to others because we'd like to join hands in order to empower our ventures and achieve future growth, while keeping in mind our joint wish to target other markets.”

Batelco Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos assured that the Sabafon shares will ensure a strong venture in Yemen, whose population is more than 22 million. He went on to note that Sabafon has eligible employees working with qualified and experienced managers exerting their efforts to satisfy customer needs with high-quality services at competitive prices.

Sabafon Executive Director Tariq Al-Haidari affirmed that Sabafon has succeeded in maintaining its leading position in Yemen's GSM mobile phone market, maintaining that partnering with Batelco will help expand its web and strengthen its leading position for the benefit of both shareholders and customers.