Airtel to acquire Orascom’s stake in MENA undersea cable firm

The acquisition of MENA-SCS is aimed at further strengthening Airtel’s global network that across 225,000 route kilometers, covering 50 countries and 5 continents


The additional capacity will enable Airtel to serve the growing demand for data services and enterprise services across its footprint of 18 countries across South Asia and Africa. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
The additional capacity will enable Airtel to serve the growing demand for data services and enterprise services across its footprint of 18 countries across South Asia and Africa. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said its subsidiary Network i2i has entered into a definitive agreement with Egyptian firm Orascom to acquire the latter’s entire equity stake in Middle East North Africa Submarine Cable Systems for an undisclosed amount.

The agreement has been signed with Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding SAE. “With the explosion of data usage in emerging markets, including India and Africa, this (MENA) asset will provide us a scalable and diverse high capacity highway to serve our customers.

“In particular, it will provide impetus to India’s emergence as a major regional internet hub serving customers across Saarc region, with seamless global connectivity,” Ajay Chitkara, director and CEO—Global Voice & Data Business, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

Middle East North Africa Submarine Cable Systems (MENA-SCS) is a 100% subsidiary of Orascom. It is live and operational, connecting Mumbai—Oman—Saudi Arabia—Egypt and Italy. It further has the branching options to connect to other countries in Europe, Africa and Middle East via branching options to Cyprus, Greece, Djibouti, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, Libya and Sudan.

MENA-SCS owns and operates a submarine cable network between India and Europe covering Middle East, with options to extend the network to Africa. It is a submarine optic network capable of carrying multitera bits per second of data speeds.

The proposed acquisition of MENA-SCS is aimed at further strengthening Airtel’s global network that currently runs across 225,000 route kilometers, covering 50 countries and 5 continents.

“The additional capacity will enable Airtel to serve the growing demand for data services and enterprise services across its footprint of 18 countries across South Asia and Africa,” the statement said.

Currently, Airtel’s global network portfolio includes ownership of i2i submarine cable system connecting Chennai to Singapore, consortium ownership of SMW4 submarine cable system connecting Chennai and Mumbai to Singapore and Europe, and new cable system investments like Asia America Gateway (AAG), India Middle East and Western Europe (IMEWE), Unity, EIG (Europe India Gateway) and East Africa Submarine System (EASSy).

It also has terrestrial express connectivity to neighbouring countries including Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China, the statement said.

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