The Economy & Commerce Ministry has yet to approve the setting up of UK telecoms operator Vodafone’s Qatari subsidiary, four months after the company won thelicence(MEED 10:12:07).

According to a source close to the operator, approval was expected early this year, to allow the operator to launch its service in the second half of 2008.

Vodafone has to float 40 per cent of its Qatari subsidiary on the Doha Securities Market before the end of June as a condition of its licence. However, the mobile operator first needs approval from the ministry.

“Vodafone has to go to the ministry to get approval of its articles of association,” says William Fagan, executive director of ictQatar, the telecoms regulator. “I believe that process is ongoing. We hope there will be commercial services in 2008.”

Vodafone’s Qatari partner, the Qatar Foundation, a charitable body set up by the government, will reveal the size of its stake in the second operator once the ministry has given its approval.

Some 45 per cent of the company will be split between Vodafone and the Qatar Foundation.

Vodafone will retain management control of the company regardless of the size of its stake.

The remaining 15 per cent will be taken up by government investment groups.