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Wed 11 Jul 2007 12:02 AM

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Qatar's 2nd teleco to sell shares to public

Telecom regulator says licence winner will be required to sell 40% of shares in an IPO.

Qatar's new mobile phone operator will have to sell a 40 % stake to the public, the Gulf Arab country's telecom regulator said in offer documents released on Tuesday.

Twelve international and regional firms and consortiums have until Sept. 2 to submit bids for the licence that will end a mobile phone monopoly in the country of 840,000 people, the regulator said in a statement.

AT&T, Vodafone and Verizon Communications Inc. are eligible to vie for the licence, along with Arab operators Emirates Telecommunications Corp. and Mobile Telecommunications Co.

The winner, expected to be unveiled in October after an auction process, would be required to sell 40 % of the company's shares in an initial public offering, the offer document, posted on the regulator's Web site, said.

It would also have to sell a 15 % stake to the government, giving the winner a minority holding in the new firm, expected to start operations next year.

Qatar Telecommunications Co. has a monopoly on mobile and fixed-line telephone services in Qatar, holder of the world's third-biggest natural gas reserves.

The population of Qatar should hit 1.34 million by 2015, driving mobile phone use, the regulator said in April.

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