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Tue 9 Aug 2005 04:00 AM

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Yemen bid proves to be watershed

Six bidders are reported to have been short-listed for the award of the licence and UAE operator Etisalat is reported to be outside of the remaining bidders, despite having participated in the early stages of the award process.

The bid for a third GSM licence in Yemen appears to have thrown up a number of surprises, including offering the first opportunity for Oman’s state telco Oman Telecom to bid on an investment outside of its home-market.

Six bidders are reported to have been short-listed for the award of the licence and UAE operator Etisalat is reported to be outside of the remaining bidders, despite having participated in the early stages of the award process. In June, Etisalat International CEO Obaid Bin Mes’har had stated that Etisalat was evaluating the company’s entry into Yemen as the third operator.

Omantel, which completed a successful initial public offering in July is seeking to modify its mobile arm, Oman Mobile, which now operates as a separate entity but is still 100% owned by Omantel. Speaking with CommsMEA earlier in the year, Oman Mobile managing director Amer Al Rawas said, “…we now feel quite confident – we have competent human capital, and we have quite a portfolio of services…and we believe that at any point in time when we feel comfortable, we will analyse opportunities when they present themselves.”

Etisalat meanwhile, has announced that it has appointed a group of seven banks to act as mandated lead arrangers in a US$2.1 billion facility to finance 90% of its share in the acquisition bid for a 26% stake in Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL). The mandated lead arrangers have fully underwritten the deal and are committed to fund the transaction. The 18-month bridge facility will be used to finance Etisalat’s share of the final payment due at the end of August.

The banks are HSBC Amanah, Barclays Capital, Calyon, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, and National Bank of Dubai.

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