UAE. Virgin Group and FRiENDi GROUP today announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement for the Middle East and Africa. Virgin, a leading international investor and one of the worlds most recognized and respected brands, is the majority shareholder in Virgin Mobile South Africa.
FRiENDi GROUP is the leading Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) group in the Middle East.
Subject to local authority clearances, the two groups will merge their regional telecom operations to create a combined entity to be called “Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa” (VMMEA), which will develop and operate mobile telecommunications businesses across the region.
The combined group will manage the current operations of Virgin Mobile in South Africa and FRiENDi GROUP in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, creating a sizeable regional mobile telecom player with more than 1 million customers. Virgin and FRiENDi GROUP have complementary brands across their respective demographic targets and both are focusing on providing great customer service and value for money.
In addition the new group has ambitious plans to further strengthen its regional leadership position by launching in more markets across the Middle East and Africa, and is targeting a regional customer base of over 5 million subscribers by 2015 across both the Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi mobile brands.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder and President of Virgin, commented “We are delighted to have agreed this strategic partnership with FRiENDi GROUP to create Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa, and together we 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”.
Mikkel Vinter, CEO and Founder of FRiENDi GROUP, commented “The Virgin Mobile brand is one of the most successful and revered MVNO brands globally, and the Virgin Group has an excellent track record of operating successful MVNO businesses in other parts of the world, so I am excited about working closely with Virgin Group on rolling out new MVNO operations across Africa and the Middle East”.
Upon completion of the deal being announced today, Virgin Group will become the largest individual shareholder of the combined group holding a significant minority stake. VMMEA will be led by FRiENDi GROUP CEO & Founder Mikkel Vinter, and will be headquartered in Dubai, UAE.
About Virgin Group
The Virgin Group is a leading international branded investment company and one of the world's most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors ranging from mobile telephony and media to transportation, travel, financial services, hotels, health and fitness, as well as renewable technologies and space tourism.
Virgin employs approximately 50,000 people in 35 countries and its Global branded revenues in 2011 exceeded £13 billion (approx. US$20 billion). Virgin Mobile branded businesses already operate in eight countries globally, including Australia, Chile, Canada, France, India, South Africa, UK and the USA, serving approximately 15 million mobile subscribers.
About FRiENDi GROUP
FRiENDi GROUP is an innovative telecommunications group operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE) with a geographical focus area of Middle East and Africa. The MVNO/MVNE model is a proven business model delivering significant benefits to mobile consumers and telecom operator partners. With operations and partnerships in Jordan, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman, FRiENDi GROUP is headquartered in Dubai with a management team that includes senior level team members from a variety of successful regional and global mobile operators as well as MVNOs.
FRiENDi GROUP has a strong financial foundation and is supported by well-reputed and highly experienced global and regional shareholders including ePlanet Capital, Dolphin Telecom, NTEC, MPE and others.