Etisalat says no Iraq mobile bid

UAE telecom says it will not bid for Iraqi licence, but will focus on Kuwait's third mobile operator.

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By  Reuters Published  August 13, 2007

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. Etisalat) said on Monday it decided not to bid for an Iraqi mobile phone licence to be auctioned this week and would instead focus on Kuwait's plans for a third mobile operator.

Regional rivals including Qatar Telecommunications Co. (Qtel) said they will bid on Thursday for one of up to four 15-year licences in Iraq, where mobile penetration is expected to more than double in less than three years.

Etisalat was invited to bid but decided against it after the Iraq telecom regulator declined its request for more time, Etisalat's general manager of international business Jamal al-Jarwan said.

"We're not going to bid," Jarwan said. "We did consider it but the timing was very pressured. In spite of our request for an extension, the regulator is going ahead with the auction this week," he said.

Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat, which also operates in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt, is in talks with three financial investment companies in Kuwait about making a joint bid for a mobile phone licence there, Jarwan added.

"It is highly likely we will bid. We are very seriously considering it," Jarwan said. "We are talking with three possible Kuwaiti partners about forming a consortium."

Kuwait is inviting bids for a 26 % stake in the firm that will be set up to operate the licence. The company would compete with Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC) and National Mobile Telecommunications Co. (Wataniya) in the country of about 2 million.

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