Saudi Telecom submits offer for Syrian mobile licence

State-run telco is one of four remaining in licence auction, along with Qtel, Turkcell and France Telecom
Saudi Telecom submits offer for Syrian mobile licence
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 02 Apr 2011 12:11 PM

State-run Saudi

Telecom (STC) has submitted an offer for a mobile

licence in Syria, the company said on Saturday, one of the few

countries in the region with low mobile penetration and

promising growth chances.

STC is one of five firms to qualify for the Syria licence

auction, along with Qatar Telecom, Turkcell, France Telecom and the UAE's Etisalat, although the latter two have dropped plans to bid.

"(STC) announces that it submitted on Wednesday, March 30,

its technical and operational offer... The offers that are

qualified by Syria's (telecommunication) ministry will enter the

final (financial) phase of the auction on April 27," the company

said in a statement on the bourse website.

Syria, with a mobile penetration of about 30 percent in

2007, started a tender in September to sell the third mobile

operator licence.

The two current cellphone operators in Syria are South

Africa's MTN and Syriatel, which is mostly owned by

Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf.

STC faces increased competition from Etihad Etisalat

(Mobily) and Zain Saudi in its home market,

the biggest Arab economy.

An industry source told Reuters in October that STC could be

among the strongest contenders, especially after ties between

the Damascus government and Riyadh improved last year.

France Telecom has said it decided not to submit a bid for

Syria's third mobile phone licence given the terms, with the

price the main concern, given that the radio wave frequencies on

offer were of lower quality and would have required a denser,

and therefore more expensive, network build-out.

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