Virgin firms up Friendi mobile deal - TechCentral

Virgin firms up Friendi mobile deal

Mikkel Vinter and Richard Branson

Virgin Group and Middle Eastern mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), the Friendi Group, have confirmed reports that they’re planning to work together to expand the Virgin Mobile brand across Africa and the Middle East.

TechCentral broke the news last month that Virgin and Friendi were in talks about a deal.

The two companies have signed a “strategic partnership agreement” and, subject to regulatory approvals, will merge their regional telecommunications operations to create a combined entity to be called Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa.

Virgin Group will be the largest individual shareholder of the combined group, holding a “significant minority stake”. The combined business will be led by Friendi founder and CEO Mikkel Vinter and will be headquartered in Dubai.

The combined group will manage the current operations of Virgin Mobile in SA and Friendi Group in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Combined, the two companies have more than 1m customers.

The new company plans to launch operations in more markets across the Middle East and Africa, Virgin says in a statement. It is targeting a regional customer base of 5m subscribers by 2015.

Virgin president Richard Branson says the combination of the two companies will create the “undisputed regional leader in the MVNO space”.

“Virgin and Friendi Group bring complementary skills and assets to the new venture and I have great confidence in its future success.”

Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile SA says it has identified a replacement for Steve Bailey, who stepped down last month to take on the role of chief commercial officer at Nigeria’s Glo Mobile. It hasn’t named Bailey’s successor. It has also appointed Anton Landman, former chief financial officer at DigiCel Panama, as its new chief financial officer. Landman will act as CEO until the new CEO is able to take the reins.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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