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Qtel advances as telco giant takes majority stake in Iraq’s Asiacell

The Qatar Exchange's market measure QE 20 gained a quarter percentage point, closing at 8,342.51 Wednesday. The gauge ended a week-long losing streak thanks to gains of market bellwether Industries Qatar (up 0.76% at QR133.40) and of Qatar Telecom, known as Qtel (advancing half a percentage point at QR112.50). Earlier in the day Qtel announced it has increased its stake in Iraqi telco operator Asiacell to 60%. In a statement to the Qatar Bourse, Qtel said it "has agreed to increase its shareholding to 60% for a total consideration of $1.47bn. Qtel will initially increase its ownership in Asiacell to only 53.9%, the further increase in shareholding is subject to Iraqi Government and Regulatory Authority approval." The transaction will be financed from existing funds, the firm said. The statement added that "Asiacell has already delivered significant value to its shareholders and is expected to continue to do so. (...) we continue to work hard on preparing for Asiacell's landmark IPO planned for later this year. Asiacell is a very important company for the Qtel Group. We continue to expand our regional footprint and diversification of our revenue sources. More than 80% of Qtel Group's revenues are now generated outside Qatar."