MTC may bid for Qatar cell licence

Kuwait's telecoms giant has said it is interested in bidding for Qatar's second mobile phone licence.

Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC) said on Saturday it was interested in bidding for Qatar's second mobile phone licence.

"Yes, it's true. We are investigating. We are very interested in finding out more details, the process, what's the opportunity," an MTC spokesman said when asked about a report in al-Rai, which quoted MTC's Chief Executive Saad al-Barrak as saying the firm planned to compete for the licence.

Barrak told Kuwaiti daily al-Rai he expects intense and tough competition for the Qatari mobile license, expected to be awarded in the last quarter of this year.

Qatar's Supreme Council for Information & Technology Communication is finalising a list of firms after receiving prequalification applications on May 27. Pre-qualified companies will be invited to submit technical and commercial offers by July with a final award expected in November.

The licence will end Qatar Telecom's monopoly in the saturated market, which has a mobile penetration rate in excess of 100%.

The spokesman said MTC, which has expanded strongly in the Middle East and Africa, was investigating any new opportunity, with Qatar being an interesting market in the backyard of its Kuwaiti home market.

Barrak also told the paper the MTC-led consortium, which was declared the highest bidder for Saudi Arabia's third mobile license on March 24, was still waiting for the Saudi cabinet to issue the license.

The consortium offered 22.91 billion riyals ($6.11 billion) for the Saudi license.

MTC bought Netherlands-based Celtel, which is operating in 14 sub-Saharan countries, for $3.4 billion in 2005 as part of its expansion.

The spokesman also confirmed Barrak's comments in the newspaper that MTC still planned to list on a European bourse next year but that it would not necessarily be on the London stock exchange.

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