Etisalat, Zain bid for Qatar licence

Results of the auction for Qatar's second mobile phone licence are expected in four weeks.

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By  Reuters Published  September 17, 2007

Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) and Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications (Zain) said yesterday they had bid for Qatar's second mobile phone licence.

Etisalat, Zain, and 10 other firms and groups had until Sunday to bid for the licence that will break the mobile phone monopoly of state-owned Qatar Telecommunications Co in the country of 840,000 people.

Others such as AT&T, Vodafone and Verizon Communications Inc were also qualified to bid.

"We are optimistic about the result, which is expected in four weeks," Etisalat International Investments Chief Executive Officer Jamal al-Jarwan told Reuters.

Jarwan would not say how much Etisalat was willing to pay for the licence. Etisalat Chairman Mohammed al-Omran said in July the firm planned to "compete fiercely" to enter Qatar.

Zain Chief Executive Saad al-Barrak said earlier this month he did not expect to win the licence because the firm was not willing to overpay. Kuwait's Al-Rai al-Aam reported last month the licence might cost more than $300 million.

Kuwait's MTC, which is the second-biggest Gulf Arab telecom firm by market value and has adopted the brand name Zain, said on Monday it had bid for the licence.
Mobile penetration in Qatar, holder of the world's third-biggest reserves of natural gas, exceeds 100%. Its population should grow to 1.3 million by 2015, driving mobile phone use, the regulator said in April.

William Fagan, executive director of Qatar's Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, declined to comment when Reuters called. The council is managing the licence sale.

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