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IFC Financing Supports Telecoms Sector in the West Bank and Gaza


In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa

Phone: +20 2 2461 4230

E-mail:
RMustafa@ifc.org


Ramallah, West Bank, July 10, 2012—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has helped arrange a $125 million financing package for Wataniya Mobile Palestine to aid in making mobile services more accessible and affordable in the West Bank and Gaza.

The support consists of $60 million in financing from IFC and a $65 million syndicated loan from several other lenders. Wataniya is the West Bank’s second-largest mobile phone operator and it plans to use the financing to expand into Gaza, where customers currently only have one choice of operator. Wataniya’s entrance into the market is expected to spur competition, improving service levels and lowering prices.

“IFC continues to customize its financing to meet our unique needs as we grow and expand our reach,” said Bassam Hannoun, Wataniya Mobile CEO. “IFC is helping us enter a new market, Gaza, which has nearly 40% of the Palestinian population. It is a market that needs competitiveness and is keen for a choice in mobile telecom services.”

More than 500,000 subscribers use Wataniya Mobile, which launched operations in the West Bank in 2009. Consumer prices have dropped 17 percent and network quality has improved as a result of the company’s expansion into the market.

“Telecom services are a vital part of everyday life, and lowering the cost of communication and improving service levels will contribute to the continued economic development of the West Bank and Gaza,” said Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. “Wataniya Mobile has already demonstrated that the private sector can thrive and make a difference in the lives of people living in challenging environments.”

The financing package includes the participation of several lenders. IFC’s support came from its own account along with financing provided by the Qatar National Bank. The syndicated loan was provided by co-arranger Bank of Palestine, the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, Cairo Amman Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East and Palestine Commercial Bank.

IFC has an extensive history of supporting Wataniya Mobile. In 2009, IFC provided the firm with a $30 million loan to help it enter the Palestinian market.  In 2011, IFC invested $3 million to support the company’s successful IPO on the Palestinian Stock Exchange.  

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About Wataniya Mobile Palestine

Wataniya Mobile is the second licensed mobile operator in Palestine. It launched services in the West Bank in 2009 and in 2011 successfully completed an initial public offering. With more than 500,000 subscribers at the end of December 2011, Wataniya Mobile is one of the West Bank and Gaza's largest public companies and a significant player in the Palestinian mobile market.

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