April 22, 2021 finance & economy

Virgin Mobile's Middle East arm secures $20m for Kuwait launch


Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA) secured $20 million in funding from investors including Kuwait-based Wafra Investment International and Impulse International to expand its operations in the country.

VMMEA and Kuwait Telecommunications Company, which is owned by Saudi Telecommunications Company, obtained a licence from Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority last month. Under the brand name of Virgin Mobile Kuwait, it is expected to launch services in the fourth quarter of this year.

It will be the fourth service provider and the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Kuwait.

“We are thrilled to be launching in Kuwait … [it] will usher in a new era in connectivity and customer-led service,” Erik Dudman Nielsen, founder and chief executive of VMMEA, said.

“Our presence, following other successful launches in the GCC, is part of our ongoing commitment to always provide more choices for consumers as well as to push the boundaries of a traditional telco with our innovative, digital propositions,” he added.

Under the agreement, STC Kuwait will be the facilities provider, while Virgin Mobile Kuwait will offer digital services to customers, the entities said in a joint statement.

Wafra International has provided debt funding of $13m to the venture, while Impulse International, ultimately owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority, will provide $7m in equity financing.

“This is the first investment of its kind, established to set up a virtual telecommunications network,” Wafra International chief executive Ghazi Al Hajeri said.

“Wafra is constantly looking for ways to enable companies and help them create value by providing the best possible solutions. We are proud to partner with a strong global brand such as Virgin Mobile that will ultimately contribute to Kuwait’s digital infrastructure, economic growth and increase local employment opportunities,” he added.

Wafra manages different types of portfolios and investment funds. Its assets under management were worth approximately 2 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($6.6bn) as of December 31, 2019.

Impulse's investment “fits perfectly with our strategy of introducing differentiated services through technology transfer”, Izzat Abou-Amarah, chief executive of the company's telecommunications arm, said.

Representatives of both Wafra and Impulse will sit on Virgin Mobile Kuwait’s board.

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