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Etisalat and Zain hoping for Qatar win

18 Sep 2007

The UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) and Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC Group, recently rebranded as Zain) both confirmed yesterday that they had placed bids for Qatar’s second mobile phone licence. Etisalat, Zain and ten other companies and consortiums had until Sunday to bid for the concession that will break the mobile monopoly of state-owned Qatar Telecom (Qtel). Etisalat’s International Investments CEO Jamal Al-Jarwan told Reuters: ‘We are optimistic about the result, which is expected in four weeks,’ but declined to say how much Etisalat was willing to pay for the licence. Recent local news reports put the licence’s value at over USD300 million. Etisalat Chairman Mohammed Al-Omran said in July the firm planned to ‘compete fiercely’ to enter Qatar. Zain Chief Executive Saad Al-Barrak said earlier this month that he did not expect to win the auction because his firm was not willing to overpay. Qatar already has a cellular penetration well above 100%, and the new entrant will have to construct its own infrastructure, as Qtel currently has exclusive rights to its own networks. Seventeen firms had originally applied for the licence but only twelve bidders were shortlisted: Etisalat, Batelco, Jordan Telecom, MTC, Orascom Telecom, Quic Consortium (led by Omantel and Belgacom), Reliance Telecom, Ace Consortium (led by Bharti Airtel), Vodafone, AT&T, the Argos Consortium (led by Verizon) and Digicel.

Qatar, Etisalat UAE, Zain Group

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