The UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) will not be bidding for Iraq’s fourth mobile licence, set to be auctioned off before the end of the year.  

“The fourth licence in any country is normally complex. We are not interested at this stage and I have not received any report from my people saying that they would like to look at it again,” says Mohammed Omran, chairman of Etisalat.

The telecoms operator was one of 15 companies that had shown interest in submitting a bid for Iraq’s fourth licence, which has a public-private partnership structure that received cabinet approval in May 2010. Other interested bidders include Turkcell and South Africa’s MTN.

The licence has been repeatedly delayed due to political instability, but Iraq’s Ministry of Communications is confident a partner will be chosen before the end of the year.  

Under the terms of the licence, 40 per cent of the shares will be allocated to a private operator, 35 per cent to the public and 25 per cent to the ministry. The private operator will need to invest some $2bn to go toward infrastructure costs. The new licensee will join private operators Asiacell, Zain Iraq and Korek Telecom.

Etisalat is focusing on its current markets and is not actively considering any mergers or acquisitions for the time being, according to Omran.