Etisalat, STC and Zain all bid for Oman’s third mobile licence

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Three Middle East operators join challenge for licence to compete against Ooredoo and Omantel

Etisalat, Saudi Telecom (STC) and Zain have all bid for the third mobile licence for Oman, giving one of them to chance to compete against state-controlled Omantel and Qatar-based Ooredoo.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority says it will announce a shortlist on 14 August and name the winner on 4 September.

Bader Al Kharafi, vice chairman and group CEO of Kuwait-based Zain, said: “Zain considers the Omani telecom market a promising growth opportunity complementing our regional footprint. Should we be successful, I’m confident the Omani community would warmly welcome the Zain brand and the new mobile operation would be value accretive to Zain’s shareholders.”

STC said in a statement to Tadawul, the Saudi stock exchange, that its “bid includes a complete business plan, technical and financial plans along with a financial offer for the licence”.

Etisalat said that its bid was in line with the group’s expansion strategy, considering the market potential and similarities, footprint proximity to its core market, and likely synergies.

According to Reuters, the two current licensees each has a market share of about 41%, with the rest held by virtual mobile network operators. The agency quotes IDC estimating the market as being worth $590 million in 2015 and saying it will be worth $700 million in 2018.

In December 2016 the TRA said bids were open to companies with a turnover of at least $250 million a year from telecoms and a net asset value of $400 million or more. Companies must have provided services in their country of origin for 10 years and in at least one other country for five years.

The TRA said at the time that it “considers that the enhancement of competition in the mobile telecommunications services market will be of significant benefit to consumers and to the economy of the Sultanate, and is consistent with the general policy of the government as well the TRA’s mandate to promote market entry under the Telecommunications Regulatory Act.”