Second operator shapes up

16 December 2005
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is set to officially award a licence for a second mobile operator by the end of December after disclosing further details of the new firm. A company identified as The Emirates Company for Integrated Telecommunications (EITC)is expected to begin operating by mid-2006 (MEED 30:9:05).

'The Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecommunication Sector [SCSTC] has empowered the TRA to draft the terms and conditions for the new licence, which is expected to be signed towards the end of December,' TRA director-general Mohammed al-Ghanim said on 9 December.

The SCSTC is still finalising the regulatory framework for competition between the new operator and the incumbent Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). It is also reviewing the government royalty structure and licence fees.

The structure appears to have changed following the announcement of the second operator in May. Under the original plan, 40 per cent of the company was to be owned by the General Pensions & Social Security Authority and un-named private investors. The remaining 60 per cent of the company's $1,100 million capital had been earmarked for the private sector and an initial public offering (IPO).

Under the new terms, the operator will now be 50 per cent owned by the government. Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Companywill take a 25 per cent stake and a previously unknown firm, The Emirates Company for Telecommunications & Technology, will own the remaining 25 per cent. The TRA confirmed that the shareholders will look into reducing their stakes with a view to launching 20 per cent of the company as an IPO.

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