Following yesterday’s official granting of its mobile network operating licence, Vodafone Qatar set a target date for launching commercial services of 1 March 2009. In the meantime the UK-backed company said it would be negotiating an infrastructure sharing agreement with incumbent operator Qatar Telecom (Qtel) to help it achieve nationwide coverage. Ahead of its network launch, Vodafone Qatar will offer 40% of its shares to investors in an IPO scheduled for September-October, and no later than 30 November. Following the IPO Vodafone Group will retain 45% of the company’s share capital while 15% will be held by local institutional investors as follows: Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (5%), Military Pension Fund (3.3%), Military Staff Loan Funds (3.4%), and Health and Education Endowment (3.3%). HSBC and Qatar National Bank are advising on the IPO. Vodafone Group will have overall board control and a five-year management contract.
Vodafone Qatar won the country’s second mobile licence last December, for which it paid a fee of USD2.12 billion, and it is also one of the contenders for the second fixed line licence, the winner of which is expected to be announced soon. The fixed concession will also include a permit to provide WiMAX wireless broadband services. Qtel is currently the sole provider of fixed and mobile telephony in the emirate.