Tirana, Tuesday February 17 —The EBRD,
International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Greece’s Alpha Bank today
announced their partnership with Vodafone Albania Sh.A. through an €85
million loan that will enable Vodafone to extend its network coverage and
provide quality services across Albania, increasing competition in what
was previously a monopolistic sector.
The EBRD and IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank, are each providing
€35 million for nine years, with a further €15 million syndicated to
Alpha Bank, Greece’s second-largest bank, for up to eight years. The
loan package – unavailable in the local financial sector – represents
Albania’s largest ever debt-financed project, and the first syndicated
private sector, long-term loan in the country.
Peter Reiniger, Business Group Director for Energy and Telecoms at the
EBRD, said the Bank is working with Vodafone Albania to help it expand
its business in the country and promote competition in a heavily under-nourished
sector. He added that the project indicates growing confidence in Albania,
and also shows that strong, well-managed Albanian private-sector companies
can obtain long-term financing from the market. As well as supporting market-economy
principles, the project should demonstrate to other potential private investors
the opportunities that exist in the country.
Khosrow Zamani, IFC director for Southern Europe and Central Asia, noted
that “this deal highlights the IFC’s commitment to supporting Albania’s
private sector and helping develop its telecommunication services.” The
project is expected to expand telecommunication services to reach a larger
part of the Albanian population. “Vodafone Albania’s entry as a strong
second operator in the country, together with its introduction of prepaid
services, has led to an expansion of service and a reduction in tariffs,
thereby extending telecommunication services to limited income and rural
consumers”, added Mr Zamani.
Artemis Theodoridis, Executive General Manager of Alpha Bank, said: “Our
participation in this project demonstrates our strong commitment to the
Albanian market and to investments in the country’s telecommunication
services and overall infrastructure. Alpha Bank currently ranks first amongst
Albanian and foreign commercial banking institutions located in Albania
in terms of financings and has since 1998 consistently proven its commitment
in supporting large scale private sector projects and commercial businesses
across the country. The Bank confirms its strong interest in pursuing new
private and public sector projects in the future.”
Established in 2001 after it was awarded a 15-year licence to provide GSM
mobile services across the country, Vodafone Albania is the second largest
mobile operator in the country. It is majority owned by Vodafone Group
PLC, the UK-based global wireless operator, and is managed by its subsidiary
Vodafone-Panafon S.A., the Greek mobile telecoms company. The Vodafone
Group is the world’s largest provider of mobile communication services,
and a top 10 global company. This latest project underlines its growing
interest in Southeast Europe.
Thomas Papaspyrou, General Manager of Vodafone Albania, said this project
is very important for the Albanian mobile communications sector. “It will
help improve services for Vodafone’s customers and also contribute to
Vodafone’s plans to develop further in the country,” Mr Papaspyrou said.
“Moreover, by working with institutions such as the EBRD and IFC, we benefit
from financial support that ensures we can offer the best mobile communication
services to our existing and future customers.”
The EBRD is the single largest investor in central and eastern Europe.
In the telecoms sector alone, the Bank has invested over €1.8 billion.
The EBRD, owned by 60 governments and two intergovernmental institutions,
aims to foster the transition from centrally planned to market economies
in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Visit the EBRD’s website: www.ebrd.com
IFC has invested over $65 million in Albania, with projects ranging from
the financial to infrastructure and construction to oil and gas. IFC’s
strategy in Albania remains focused on developing a strong private sector,
while improving competitiveness and supporting job creation. IFC
promotes and finances sustainable private sector development in emerging
markets, and remains the biggest provider of resource flows to the private
sector in the developing world amongst development finance institutions.
IFC also mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps
clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses.