UPDATE 1-Qatar Telecom raises stake in Kuwait Wataniya to 92.1 pct
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DUBAI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has raised its stake in Kuwait's Wataniya to 92.1 percent following the close of its tender offer.
The Qatari firm, which operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, paid 519.1 million Kuwaiti dinars ($1.8 billion) at 2.6 dinars per share to raise its stake from 52.5 percent, it said in a statement on Sunday.
It did not specify from whom it bought the shares, but on Saturday, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) had agreed to sell its 23.5 percent stake in Kuwait's No.2 telecom operator to Qtel.
Shareholders tendering their shares will be paid within about three weeks, Qtel said, pending approval by the Kuwait Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The CMA previously approved the offer in August.
The deal cements Qtel's control of Wataniya, which has operations in Algeria, Tunisia, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Territories.
Qtel did not say whether it would now seek to delist Wataniya from the Kuwait bourse, and it is unclear whether market rules allow Qtel to force remaining shareholders to sell.
"We respect the decision of those shareholders who decided not to accept the offer and look forward to their continuing support," the Qtel statement added.
Qtel bought a controlling Wataniya stake in 2007 but has been seeking full control to capitalise on the company's weak share price and growth prospects in emerging markets such as Algeria and Tunisia.
(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Andrew Torchia)
Keywords: QATAR TELECOM/BRIEF