Egypt’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has selected a consortium led by Etisalat of the UAE as winner of the country’s third mobile licence, a combined 2G and 3G operating concession. The winning bid is reportedly worth EGP16.7 billion (USD2.9 billion), almost eight times the minimum offer, and Etisalat expects to receive the concession next month, ahead of a planned launch in February 2007. Etisalat holds around 70% of the equity in the winning consortium, with the remainder split between domestic partners including Egypt Post, National Bank of Egypt and Commercial International Bank (Egypt). The new licensee will compete with existing mobile operators Vodafone Egypt and Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS – known as MobiNil). ‘We were very confident in Egypt as a place for investment and were very sure that the process of the new licensing and the final decision will be in favour of the offer that will best serve the Egyptian customer,’ Etisalat Chairman Eng. Mohammed Hassan Omran said in a statement. ‘We would like to thank the NTRA and MOICT for the transparency and commitment in the selection process. We are very delighted and honoured that the decision was in favour of our consortium proposal.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the NTRA pre-qualified nine bids for the final round of consideration in June. Etisalat beat off competition from fixed line incumbent Telecom Egypt, bidding as a joint venture consortium with Telecom Italia, and consortia headed by MTC, Wataniya Telecom (both of Kuwait), Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems, Turkcell, Telenor of Norway, Qatar Telecom and South Africa’s MTN Group. The regulator said two bids had been disqualified after the technical evaluation. The first was a joint venture between Kuwait’s Emak and India’s Reliance, and the second was a consortium headed by Saudi Telecom and Telekom Malaysia.