Saudi Telecom plans Kuwait bid

Saudi Telecom is joining regional rivals to bid for a 26% stake in Kuwait's third mobile network operator.

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By  Reuters Published  August 25, 2007

Saudi Telecom (STC) said on Saturday it planned to bid for a stake in Kuwait's third mobile phone firm, joining regional rivals in a race to tap the telecom market of the Middle East's fourth-largest oil producer.

"Saudi Telecom announces it intends to take part in the global tender for 26 % of the third mobile licence in Kuwait," the largest Arab telecom firm by market value said in a statement on the bourse Web site.

Bids for the tender are due by Sept. 7.

Saudi Telecom made its first foray outside of its domestic market earlier this year when it bought a 25 % stake in Malaysia's Maxis, Malaysia's biggest mobile phone company, for $3 billion.

Saudi Telecom could compete against regional rivals including Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat), for the Kuwait licence.

Etisalat, which operates an affiliate in Saudi Arabia and is is bidding for Qatar's second mobile phone licence, also wants to enter Kuwait, general manager of international business Jamal al-Jarwan told Reuters on Thursday.

Kuwait's al-Wasat newspaper said on Thursday that Saudi Telecom and Orascom Telecom are among at least 17 groups considering bidding for a stake.

It said other likely bidders included Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel), National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Finance House, Kuwait's Global Investment House, Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) and Commercial Bank of Kuwait.

Kuwait has two mobile phone networks, one run by Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC) and the other by National Mobile Telecommunications Co.

MTC is part of a group that will soon start Saudi Arabia's third mobile phone firm.

The kingdom, home to about 24 million people, is also ending STC's fixed-line monopoly this year.

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