A consortium led by MTC of Kuwait has won the auction for Saudi Arabia’s third national mobile licence with a bid of SAR22.91 billion (USD6.11 billion). The win gives MTC an international footprint covering almost 500 million people across the Middle East and Africa. The Kuwaiti telco has a 50% interest in the winning consortium, but has committed to lowering this to 25% via a mandatory initial public offering (IPO). MTC’s local consortium partners include Saudi Plastics Factory, Almarai Company, Rakisa Holdings and Al Jeraisy Development Company.
The licence award is subject to approval from Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers, with the new cellco expected to launch in 2008. The Kingdom is currently home to two mobile operators, state-owned Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Etisalat subsidiary Mobily. MTC beat off competition from eight other bidders: Orascom Telecom (Egypt), MTN (South Africa), Turkcell (Turkey), Oger Telecom (Dubai), Reliance Telecom (India), Bharti (India), MTNL (India) and Digicel (Jamaica).
Dr. Saad Al Barrak, Chief Executive Officer of MTC, stated: ‘We are delighted to have made the highest bid and look forward to confirmation of being awarded the third mobile licence in the attractive Saudi mobile market. We have a strong consortium of Saudi partners, the most achievable synergies, and the operating expertise to bring world class services to the people of Saudi Arabia.’