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Six telecom operators bid for Syria licence

Six telecom operators bid for Syria licence

(DP-News-Gulfnews)

Dubai, tough competition likely as low penetration shared by Syriatel and MTN gives market scope for rapid expansion.
Six companies have submitted bids for the third mobile telecommunications licence in Syria's pre-qualifying stage.

According to the tender documents, a bidder may comprise more than one telecom operator, but Syria's state telecoms operator will hold a 20 per cent stake in the company.

The bidders must have at least three years of experience in operating a cell phone licence and must be operating in two countries with at least 1.5 million subscribers each.



The tender had been expected to draw international interest for one of the last markets in the Middle East with a major potential for expansion. According to Mohammad Al Jalali, Syria's Associate Minister of Communications and Technology, the six companies are etisalat, Saudi Telecom, Qatar Telecom, Turkcell, France Telecom and Iran's Tamco.

Al Jalali said the tenders will be evaluated by a committee from the ministry with the participation of a German advisory company Detykon as two operators will be selected to go to the next stage. The two operators will need to buy out their current build-operate-transfer agreements and convert to a conventional licence agreement. The price reported was about $500 million (Dh1.83 billion).

Syria is estimated to have about 10.4 million cell phone subscribers, which marks a 47 per cent population penetration.

The two current cell phone operators are South Arica's MTN and Syriatel, which is mostly owned by Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf.

"The second phase of the competition will be announced next month to include the study and evaluation of the offers. The company that submits the best offer will win the tender," he said.

Deep pockets

Telecom executives said that competition will be tough, with Saudi Telecom having deep pockets and Turkcell having gained good market knowledge during an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Syriatel two years ago.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the government approved on August 25 the auctioning of a third licence and decided to change the contracts of the two current operators to build-operate-transfer licence protocols.

Syriatel holds 55 per cent of the market with 4.2 million subscriptions, while MTN Syria has the rest, according to their respective websites.

Jawad Abassi, founder and general manager of Arab Advisors Group, said: "There is heightened interest for the third operator. Syria remains a market operating under its true potential because the two operators are in a comfortable duopoly. With three operators, we will see penetration rates exceeding 100 per cent in the next four years and effectively doubling the market."

Visitors Comments          Number of Comments (1)
1
good news
pro            12/1/2010 9:00:36 PM
I'm syrian person and i'm waiting coz those telecoms operator are unreliable.
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