Kuwaiti cabinet approves third operator

According to an official statement issued by the cabinet, 60% of the anticipated enterprise will be publicly owned, 24% will be held by state-owned authorities and the remaining 16% will belong to a core local or international investor.

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By  Christopher Reynolds Published  January 2, 2007

The Kuwaiti cabinet has decided to establish a third mobile operator in the country. The government had initially resisted calls for a third entrant into the market by lawmakers, rejecting a bill outlining such measures that was put forward by parliament in April. According to an official statement issued by the cabinet, 60% of the anticipated enterprise will be publicly owned, 24% will be held by state-owned authorities and the remaining 16% will belong to a core local or international investor. Kuwait’s current operators are Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC), established in 1983, and National Telecommunications Co. (Wataniya). Wataniya, which also operates in Tunisia, Algeria and northern Iraq, was established in 1996 in face of initial government opposition. Those opposed to the entry of a third operator argue that the introduction of Wataniya failed to cut prices and improve services in the country. Wataniya recently released its financial results for 3Q06. The operator’s subscriber base increased to over 1 million active customers to end-September, with revenues amounting to KD45.9 million compared to KD39.6 million in the same period of 2005. EBITDA for the 3Q06 was KD 20.7 million, representing a 45% EBITDA margin. Net profit amounted to KD16.8 million, a decrease of 8% year on year, as portfolio income was lower as compared to 2005.

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