London, United Kingdom, March 27, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) will invest $50 million in ePanet Capital portfolio company Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA), the fastest 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. GIC is a leading financial institution equally and wholly owned by the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Following the conclusion of the transaction, GIC joins a group of prominent global and regional shareholders, including the Virgin Group, 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.”
ePlanet Capital Chairman and founder Asad Jamal said, "We are delighted that GIC, a reputable and prolific investor in the private sector in the Gulf region, is now a partner. This is a further endorsement of VMMEA as the leading virtual mobile network operator in the Middle East and Africa. ePlanet Capital, one of the first institutional investors in VMMEA, has a long and established relationship with its founders and management team, and has seen the company grow from strength to strength through its partnership with Virgin. This latest investment positions VMMEA to become a dominant regional player and we look forward to this next phase in the company's growth."
“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.”
“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. ePlanet Capital identified the high potential of MVNOs in emerging markets and was one of the first institutional investors in the company (Friendi Mobile at the time) in February 2008. Five years later the company has proven to be one of the most successful investments in ePlanet's portfolio.