Saturday, April 16, 2011

Syria - Govt has a choice of STC or Qtel for its third mobile operator

[bloomberg] Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and Qatar Telecom QSC reached the final phase of Syria’s auction for a third mobile license, Deputy Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Al- Jalali said today.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the bigger of two phone companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone operator, and France Telecom SA (FTE), the country’s largest phone company, have pulled out of the race, he said in a interview from Damascus.

The three companies withdrew because they did not agree with some contractual issues, including the 25 percent share in revenue of the Syrian state and its monopoly over infrastructure for seven years, according to a telecommunications ministry statement today. They also objected to their requirements for certain frequencies not being available, it said.

“We are heading on with our plans and schedule without any changes for the time being,” Jalali said. “We started today the evaluation of the two offers and might complete the process before the end of this week.”

Bidders will be notified about the evaluation results on April 14 and the auction will be held on April 27, he said. The auction will open with 90 million euros ($128 million), he said.

Qatar Telecom QSC Chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani said March 27 that unrest in Syria hasn’t changed the company’s interest in the country’s third mobile license. Syria is the latest Middle Eastern country to be hit by uprisings that ousted longtime rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, and sparked armed conflict in Libya.

Syria is encouraging private and foreign investment in its state-dominated economy to provide long-term financing for development and economic reforms. To help expand the mobile market, the government last year approved an auction for a third license and decided to change the contracts of the two current operators, Syriatel and MTN Group Ltd. (MTN)’s MTN Syria SA unit, to build-operate-transfer license protocols. MTN is Africa’s biggest mobile-network operator.

Syria to Award Third Mobile License to Saudi or Qatari Companies

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