Gulf Investment Corporation to support expansion of Virgin Mobile in the Middle East & Africa

Leading financial institution Gulf Investment Corporation invests $50 million in regional MVNO Group

20 March 2013
Leading financial institution Gulf Investment Corporation invests $50 million in regional MVNO Group

Amman, Jordan: Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) announced that it will invest  $50 million in Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA), the fast growing regional mobile telecommunications group headquartered in Dubai.

VMMEA is the undisputed leader in the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) sector of the mobile telecommunications industry in the MEA region, and the exclusive regional arm of global leader Virgin Mobile, which has operations on five continents and approx. 20 million mobile customers.

GIC is a leading financial institution equally and wholly owned by the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Established in 1983 to promote the role of the private sector and support economic development in the GCC, GIC has invested billions of Dollars in more than 50 projects across multiple industries in partnership with both private and government entities.

Following the conclusion of the transaction, GIC and the Virgin Group will be the two biggest single shareholders in VMMEA, alongside prominent global and regional shareholders including, ePlanet Capital, Dolphin International, NTEC and Millennium Private Equity.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin, commented " Virgin Mobile is the leading MVNO operator in the Middle East and Africa with operations in Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. We intend to create a large regional mobile telecom player reaching more than 10 million customers. The investment by GIC is an important show of support by an important institutional investor for our ambitious plans."

Mr.Rafat Nawawi, CEO of Friendi Mobile, stated: "The investment is important for Jordan operation, as it allows us to increase our investment in Jordan and create more jobs, plus GIC being the investment arm of GCC that is an important partner for Jordan to be more closely integrated with the gulf." 

"GIC supports the growth of companies that have innovative and pan-regional business models" said Ibrahim Al-Qadhi, Chief Executive Officer at GIC. " VMMEA has such a model and targets a niche market in telecommunications in the GCC. This is an important sector for the region and VMMEA is the perfect partner for existing mobile operators."

Mikkel Vinter, CEO and Founder of VMMEA, added "We are honoured by the trust shown in Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa by an esteemed financial institution like GIC.  The Management of VMMEA look forward to working closely with GIC in rolling out the Virgin Mobile brand across the Middle East & Africa. I am delighted that Mohamed Eissa, Head of Technology and Telecom Investments at GIC and Fahad Al-Nusef, VP for Technology and Telecom Investments at GIC will join the Board of VMMEA."

"We believe that the next phase of liberalization in the telecom sector supports the growth of MVNOs and we are thrilled to make this strategic investment in VMMEA. 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." said Mohamed Eissa, Head of Technology & Telecom Investments at GIC.

VMMEA is building its successful regional roll-out based on the MVNO model, one of the fastest growing business models in the mobile telecom sector globally. Virgin Mobile is the global pioneer of the MVNO business model, and VMMEA is using Virgin's experience and customer-focused business approach to roll-out exciting businesses across the MEA region, providing customers in the region with greater choice and tailored services.

About Gulf Investment Corporation
Established in 1983, GIC is a regional financial institution owned entirely and equally by the six GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.) GIC is engaged in a range of financial services that support the development of private enterprise and economic growth in the Gulf region. GIC has helped develop and invested substantial amounts in a large number of major projects in the GCC in diverse sectors such as power generation & water desalination, financial services, petrochemicals, steel and telecommunications.  GIC continues to profitably grow its  investment portfolio and asset management services from a strong capital base.

About Virgin Group
Virgin is a leading international branded investment group and one of the world's most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors ranging from mobile telephony, travel, financial services, leisure, music, holidays and health & wellness. Virgin has created more than 400 companies worldwide and employs approximately 50,000 people, in 35 countries. The businesses had global branded revenues of £13bn ($21bn) in 2012.

About Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa
Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) is the holding company for Virgin Mobile's expansion into the Middle East and Africa regions. The company was renamed in 2012 when Virgin Group and FRiENDi Group combined their regional businesses. VMMEA was established in 2006 and is headquartered in Dubai Internet City, UAE. VMMEA has established a leading position across the Middle East and Africa region, being the only MVNO in the region with 3 live MVNO operations plus one outsourced B-brand partnership. It currently has operations in South Africa, Oman, Jordan and operates an outsourced B-brand in Saudi Arabia.

Operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), VMMEA's core business activity is to provide mobile telecommunication services to consumers. The company does this by managing two consumer facing brands: Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi mobile. VMMEA also provides outsourced services to mobile network operators by operating focused brands and mobile packages on their behalf.

The VMMEA management team includes senior level team members from a variety of successful regional and global mobile operators, as well as from MVNOs. The company has a strong financial foundation supported by well-respected and highly experienced global and regional shareholders. The shareholders contribute unique skills and assets to the group, and include: Virgin Group, GIC, ePlanet Capital, Dolphin International, NTEC, Millennium Private Equity and members of the senior management team. 

© Press Release 2013


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