Zain raises concerns over terms of Omantel share sale

22 August 2008
Kuwaiti telecoms giant Zain is expressing reservations over the Oman government’s terms for the sale of a 25 per cent stake in Omantel, the state-controlled fixed-line and mobile phone operator.

The Kuwaiti operator confirms that it is one of the eight companies to successfully pre-qualify for the auction of the stake. While the bidders have not been named by Muscat, Zain’s criticisms raise doubts over how many of the shortlisted bidders will make a formal offer.

“There is no clarity at the moment,” says Ibrahim Adel, corporate affairs director of Zain. “For us, the formula is very simple. We will look at any opportunity, but we prefer to have management control and we only want to be in the dedicated mobile landscape.”

Oman’s Finance Ministry, which is organising the auction, has yet to say whether the winner of the 25 per cent stake will get management control of Omantel (MEED 18:8:08).

In its request for expressions of interest, which was published in July, the ministry said: “The government may consider the possibility of facilitating the granting of certain governance rights commensurate to the stake being offered to enable the strategic partner to make an appropriate contribution to the management.”

Zain adds that it will seek to rebrand Omantel as Zain if it buys the stake in the company. The Kuwaiti operator says it would also try to include Omantel in its One Network, which would mean some regional calls were classified as local-rate phone calls.

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