Orascom and MTNL out of the running for Saudi mobile bid

Saudi Arabia’s telco regulator has put through seven of the nine original candidates for its third mobile licence.

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By  Administrator Published  March 21, 2007

Saudi Arabia’s telco regulator has put through seven of the nine original candidates for its third mobile licence.

The country’s telecom regulatory authority Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) this week announced the candidates it had selected to continue to compete for the third mobile services licence in the country after the first stage of the bidding process.

India’s MTNL and Orascom, led by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, were both eliminated from further participation in the process on the grounds that their technical bids did not reach the regulator’s minimum criteria.

The auction for the third mobile licence in Saudi is the last great opportunity for operators looking to invest in the Gulf, telecom advisory firm Analysys recently said. It predicted that MTC and South African firm MTN would be forerunners in the final stages of the bidding process.

Other candidates in the race are: Oger Telecom, Samawat, Kingdom Turkcell, Digicel and Reliance Telecom.
The applicants will each present a financial proposal by 24 March, the CITC said.

“These financial proposals will then be evaluated and the final results will then be submitted to the board of directors and subsequently to the council of ministers for awarding the licence to the successful bidder,” the regulator said in a statement.

The winner of the licence, which analysts say could fetch more than US$6 billion, will compete for market share against incumbent mobile service providers Mobily and Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

Ten operators are competing for the kingdom’s second fixed services licence which is also currently on offer.

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