A long-running financial dispute between the dormant Warid Telecom unit in Cote d’Ivoire and Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei continues to impact on the Abu Dhabi Group’s attempt to sell the ill-fated mobile licensee. US asset management firm Lazard has been enlisted to find a buyer for the would-be cellco, but the 2010 dispute with Huawei continues to loom large over the company’s future prospects. In the past Maroc Telecom and LAP Green Networks of Libya have both been linked with approaches for Warid, but no deals have been forthcoming. An unnamed source told TMT: ‘Cote d’Ivoire as a market is really interesting and is rapidly becoming a hub for West Africa. In-market consolidation is likely – seven players are way too many, and some of the other smaller operators will have been considering a move [for Warid]. However, essentially you’re just buying a licence and minimal infrastructure, so I doubt you’ll see any newcomers looking at this’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in early-2010 Huawei abruptly stopped work on Warid’s infrastructure rollout after constructing just 70 of a projected 448 cell sites, due to financial irregularities. Reports of boardroom bickering and financial mismanagement followed, and the network deployment was never resumed.