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STC abandons Iraq mobile licence plans, report says

30 Jan 2012

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has pulled out of the running for Iraq’s fourth national mobile licence, writes Bloomberg, citing a report by MEED which quotes STC’s chief executive officer Ghassan Hasbani. According to Hasbani, the firm abandoned its plan to bid for the concession after delays in awarding the contract. The company, which is Saudi Arabia’s largest telecoms operator by subscribers, will only be interested in the Iraqi licence if it receives ‘concrete’ information from the government, Hasbani said. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, plans for the auction of Iraq’s fourth mobile licence received final cabinet approval in May 2010, by which time 15 firms had reportedly expressed an interest in entering bids, including US-based Verizon Communications, South Africa’s MTN, Turkcell of Turkey and the UAE’s Etisalat. The winner will hold a 40% stake in a new mobile operator, which will also be 35%-owned by the public, with the remaining 25% held by the Ministry of Communications (MoC). The new licensee will join three other national wireless operators in Iraq: market leader Zain Iraq, the local unit of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain Group; Asiacell, which is part-owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel); and Korek, part-owned by France Telecom. The trio were each awarded one of three new 15-year national mobile concessions in August 2007 for USD1.25 billion, while a fourth was retained by the MoC.

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