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Kuwait’s third mobile operator opens for business

Viva aims to gain a 10% share of the Kuwaiti market in its first year of operations.

Kuwait’s third mobile operator, Viva, started operations in the Gulf state on Wednesday.

The company, which is 26% owned by Saudi Arabia’s incumbent operator STC, will compete with Kuwait’s existing mobile operators, Wataniya and Zain, in a market with a population of some 3 million people and a mobile penetration rate estimated to be more than 100%.

Viva expects to attract 300,000 customers, or about 10% of the market, in its first year of operations, the company’s CEO, Najib Al Awadi, told reporters.

After winning the bid to buy a 26% stake in Viva for US$906 million last year, STC’s CEO, Saad Al-Duwaish said he hoped the Kuwaiti company would be able to gain a 30% market share within ten years. The Kuwaiti venture is STC’s first foray in a Middle East market outside Saudi Arabia.

Viva is expected to list on the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange in 2009.

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