As a condition of winning a licence to provide telecoms services in Oman, Connect Arabia International will sell 40% of its shares through an initial public offering (IPO) on the Muscat Securities Market within five years, Reuters cites an email from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) as saying. Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA), the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) part-owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is part of a consortium that owns Connect Arabia International. The 15-year licence costs OMR20,000 (USD51,800), the regulator also revealed.
The TRA initially awarded MVNO concessions to five companies in July 2008 and according to statistics from the watchdog, resellers and MVNOs accounted for 10.9% of Oman’s total mobile subscriber base of 5.277 million at the end of December 2012, down from 12.4% twelve months earlier. The Sultanate’s two licensed network operators, Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) and Nawras, accounted for respective market shares of 48.4% and 40.7% in Q4 2012.