Iraq mobile auction bidders named

Five companies are to bid for three new mobile network licences in an auction this Thursday.

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By  Lynne Roberts Published  August 14, 2007

An auction held by the Iraqi government to offer three new mobile network licences is set to take place this Thursday in the Jordanian capital Amman.

An Iraqi web site quoted government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh from a statement received by independent news agency Voices of Iraq, which said “The cabinet discussed during today’s session the auction of the mobile phones and steps taken for providing legal and legitimate circumstances for the success of the auction.”

“Five companies will compete in the auction: Atheer, Orascom, Asiacell, Korek and Turkcell” he said.

Dow Jones yesterday reported that ten operators were expected to bid, including Kuwait’s MTC, Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco), Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat), Qatar Telecom (QTel), Jordan’s Umniah and Syriatel Mobile Telecom.

However Etisalat said Monday that it had decided not to bid after the Iraq telecom regulator declined its request for more time.

A fourth licence is expected to go to the Iraqi ministry of communications.

The launch of the new licences in Iraq has been repeatedly delayed. The licensing process was scheduled to get underway in December 2005, but was put back to June 2006 before being subject to further setbacks.

Existing mobile licence operators - AsiaCell, MTC Atheer and Orascom-owned Iraqna - meanwhile currently hold temporary licences, which have been extended several times.

The auction will take place over two days for the licences, which are to run for 15 years. Winners are expected to be announced on 18 August.

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