Kuwait delays bid deadline for mobile operator

Kuwait Investment Authority to change the way the sale of 26% stake is condutcted.

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By  Reuters Published  August 30, 2007

For the second time in a month, Kuwait delayed a deadline for companies to bid for a stake in its third mobile phone operator and said it would change way the sale was condutcted.

Kuwait initially asked foreign operators and local non-telecom firms to submit bids by August 7 for a 26% stake in a company set up by the government. It moved the deadline to September 7 and delayed it again on Thursday without giving a new date.

"The tender process is being revised...," the state-owned Kuwait Investment Authority said in a statement. The September 7 deadline no longer applied, it said.

The Kuwait Investment Authority heads the committee that set up the new operator. Kuwait's government will sell 50% of the operator in an initial public offering (IPO), 26% to an investor and keep the rest.

Operators including Bahrain's Batelco, UAE-based Etisalat and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) were considering investing in the new company to enter the market of the Middle East's fourth-largest oil producer.

The review of the tender process would be completed by September 7, the Kuwait Investment Authority said. New guidelines and dates would be announced then, it said.

Kuwait has two mobile phone networks, one run by Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) and the other by National Mobile Telecommunications (Wataniya), which is controlled by Qatar Telecommunication (Qtel).

Last week Kuwait's Al-Wasat newspaper reported as many as 11 foreign and 14 local companies were considering competing for the stake, including Egypt's Orascom Telecom, Turkcell, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) and Kuwait Finance House and Kuwait's Global Investment House.

An official at Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) who declined to identified, said the bank was preparing a bid in partnership with Noor Financial and a telecom operator he would not identify.

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