MTC of Kuwait has been given official approval for its SAR22.91 billion (USD6.1 billion) bid for Saudi Arabia’s third mobile licence. The country’s Council of Ministers has ratified a decision by telecoms regulator CITC to award the concession to a consortium led by MTC, clearing the way for the telco to establish a public joint-stock company to hold the 25-year licence. The consortium, which has been set up under the name SMTC, has pledged to sell 700 million shares, or 50% of its capital; a 10% tranche will be allocated to the Pension Fund and another 10% will go to the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), with the remaining 30% stake sold via an initial public offering. SMTC plans to invest between USD6 billion and USD8 billion over the next five years. Its first services are expected to be launched in early 2008.