Etisalat, STC and Zain lose bids for Oman as government changes mind

Etisalat, STC and Zain lose bids for Oman as government changes mind

Oman has cancelled all three bids for the country’s third mobile licence and has decided to licence a still unnamed local company.

The bids came from UAE-based Etisalat, Saudi Telecom (STC) and Kuwait-based Zain, though Zain’s bid was put in question in August when Omantel took a 9.8% stake in Zain for $846 million. Omantel, 51% government owned, is one of the two existing operators in the market, competing with Qatar-based Ooredoo.

That investment by Zain delayed the decision, originally due on 4 September, but there has been no hint until now that all bidders would be rejected.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced that it “has instructed the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) to cancel the current bid”.

It said the new licence will instead go to “a consortium of a local company owned by investment funds and its global partner which has the necessary capabilities and potentials in this field”.

No one has yet suggested any names for the parties likely to be involved. The state-controlled Oman News Agency said: “The decision comes in bid to enhance the role of the investment funds and enable them to contribute to the growth of the national economy.”

One possible fund is the state-controlled Oman Investment Fund, which has $6 billion worth of funds under management.

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