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
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.
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,
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.