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July 4, 2011

Middle East Mobile Telecom Group secures new funding

FRiENDi GROUP has secured USD 25 million of new funding to further accelerate expansion plans across the Middle East, Africa and Asia region.MIDDLE EAST MOBILE TELECOM GROUP SECURES NEW FUNDING

FRiENDi GROUP has secured USD 25 million of new funding to further accelerate expansion plans across the Middle East, Africa and Asia region.

MIDDLE EAST MOBILE TELECOM GROUP SECURES NEW FUNDING

Fast growing FRiENDi GROUP raises new equity and debt to fund further regional expansion.

Dubai, UAE 26th April, 2011: FRiENDi GROUP the leading MVNO/B-brand provider in the MENA region has secured USD 25 million of new funding to further accelerate expansion plans across the Middle East, Africa and Asia region.

FRiENDi GROUP is an award-winning telecommunications group established in 2006 that is headquartered in Dubai Internet City, and operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and B-Brand enabler. FRiENDi GROUP is using a proven business model delivering significant benefits to its customers and mobile telecom operator partners, and today is operating either MVNOs or B-brand partnerships in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The new funding for FRiENDi GROUP consists of USD 10 million equity from new and existing shareholders, plus a USD 15 million structured debt facility from Standard Bank. The sizeable new funding for FRiENDi GROUP is a vote of confidence from international financial institutions and investors in the company as well as the future potential of the region’s mobile telecommunications sector.

Commenting on the new funding Mikkel Vinter CEO& Founder, FRiENDi GROUP said; “FRiENDi GROUP continues to expand rapidly, and benefit from telecom markets across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia region moving towards increasingly segmented customer propositions. The new funding from distinguished financial institutions and investors supports FRiENDi GROUP’s vision of establishing a multi-market regional footprint. We are particularly delighted that the approval of the Standard Bank facility follows an exhaustive bankability review by Standard Bank of FRIENDI GROUP’S operations and its future prospects”.

The USD 10 million equity element of this funding is provided partly by existing FRiENDi GROUP shareholders, led by Dolphin International LLC of Oman, and partly by a new shareholder, National Technology Enterprises Company (NTEC) of Kuwait. NTEC is mandated by the Kuwait Council of Ministers with a clear strategy and goals, and was created to play a vital role in servicing major stakeholders in Kuwait with their technology needs. NTEC's business model is that of a Technology Projects Development company utilizing investment tools such as Private Equity, Venture Capital and Direct Investments to initiate and stimulate Technology Projects in Kuwait and the local region.

Speaking on the entry of NTEC as a new shareholder of FRiENDi GROUP, Mr. Ghassan Al-Sultan, Senior Manager of Investment Projects from NTEC said; “NTEC invests equity in high-tech companies that have the potential of regional expansion, and a proven concept with a sustainable business model. We are confident that the FRiENDi GROUP has a bright future ahead of it, and the success of FRiENDi GROUP’s existing operations underscores the attractiveness of this opportunity”.

Mr. Mohamed Y. Al Ibrahim, Managing Director of Dolphin International LLC and member of the Board of Directors for FRiENDi GROUP said; “As a privately owned Omani company Dolphin International has enjoyed a partnership with FRiENDi GROUP since 2006.  Our latest additional investment in FRiENDi GROUP reflects the success of the Group to date, and our shared vision of the future growth opportunities in the region’s attractive mobile telecommunications market”. 

The USD 15 million structured debt facility has been provided by Standard Bank, a global bank with emerging market focus headquartered in South Africa. Standard Bank has operations in 32 countries across Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Commenting on the financing, Rassem Zok, CEO, Standard Bank plc, MENA, said; “Standard Bank is delighted to have provided financing to FRiENDi GROUP, the leading service based mobile provider in the MENA region. This facility demonstrates our committed support to the development of innovative telecoms services. Our team’s considerable sector and structuring expertise combined with local and international market knowledge enables us to offer highly structured financing solutions to clients in our core regions”.

Media Contacts:

For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

FRiENDi GROUP/Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa

Amro Baltaji, Group Vice President of Communications.

Phone
+ 971 4 369 7505
Email

Virgin Management

Nick Fox – Virgin Management – Director of Communications.

Phone
+44 7711 727618
Email