Oman cancels bidding for third mobile phone operator

Sultanate instead offers licence to group backed by one of its wealth funds
(YASSER ALZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
By Bloomberg
Wed 18 Oct 2017 02:18 PM

Oman has cancelled the bidding process to select its third mobile phone operator in favour of a group backed by its wealth funds, a month after delaying a decision on the license.

The Gulf state’s third mobile operator will be run by a local company owned by the funds and a “strategic global partner,” state-run Oman News Agency reported on Wednesday. The decision was taken to reinforce the role of wealth funds and have them contribute to economic growth, it said.

Oman invited bids for the license earlier this year, eliciting interest from Saudi Telecom Co, Emirates Telecommunications Group, Sudatel Telecom Group and Mobile Telecommunications Co. The decision on a winning bidder was initially due September 4.

The nation is studying ways to improve its investment management and is mulling a merger of its two main sovereign wealth funds amid a slump in oil prices, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in April.

A combination of the State General Reserve Fund with smaller peer Oman Investment Fund would create an entity with about $25 billion in assets, the people said.

Currently, Oman Telecommunications Co. and Ooredoo Oman, a unit of Qatar-based Ooredoo, offer mobile phone services in country.

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Last Updated: Wed 18 Oct 2017 02:25 PM GST

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