Etisalat and Batelco amongst others consider bidding for stake in new Kuwaiti cellco

24 Aug 2007

UAE incumbent Etisalat has said it is interested in bidding for a stake in Kuwait’s third mobile phone operator. The Kuwaiti government has invited companies to express an interest in competing for a 26% stake in the new operator. The deadline for submissions is 7 September. ‘We are very interested in bidding,’ said Jamal al-Jarwan, general manager of international business at Etisalat. ‘It makes a lot of a commercial sense for us to have operations in many countries, especially in the Middle East … Kuwait’s GDP per capita is high,’ he said, adding as a caveat that it was still not clear whether the Kuwaiti government would allow foreign companies to compete for the stake. A newspaper in Kuwait reported that as many as eleven foreign and 14 local companies, including Saudi Telecom and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, were considering a bid for the stake. Others include Oman Telecom, Turkcell, National Bank of Kuwait, Commercial Bank of Kuwait, Global Investment House and Kuwait Finance House, the paper reported, without citing sources. Fellow Middle East incumbent Bahrain Telecom (Batelco) has also said it is interested. Kuwait’s government will sell 50% of the planned operator in an initial public offering, 26% to an operator and keep the rest. The new cellco will compete with MTC-Vodafone Kuwait and Wataniya Telecom, which according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database shared a market of over 2.5 million at the end of March 2007. MTC was slightly ahead, with a 58% share of subscribers to Wataniya’s 42%.