The government on Wednesday said the third mobile operator in the Sultanate will be a consortium of a local company owned by investment funds and its global partner with necessary capabilities in the field.
“The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has instructed the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) to cancel the current bid and implement the new instruction as of today’s date and follow up until the issuance of the necessary licence for the new company,” it said.
The bid for a new mobile operator was approved by the government in order to improve communication services and generate fresh job opportunities for Omanis and enhance the country’s GDP.
The winner of licence for the third telecom operator was to be announced on November 30.
In May this year, TRA said several companies had expressed interest to participate in the bid for the third telecom operator’s licence. The deadline to receive the bids had expired on May 1.
TRA then said it was evaluating the proposals as per the procedures
laid out in the information memorandum (IM).
Regional players, including Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) and Kuwait’s Zain, had told their respective stock markets that the bid includes a complete business plan, technical and financial plans along with a financial offer for the licence.
As per the initial IM, the qualified bidders were to be shortlisted and announced by August 8, 2017, and the winner on September 4.
STC had said its participation was in line with the expansion strategy in the region, and the Omani telecom market was considered a “promising one”. Omantel recently said it had agreed to buy an additional 12 per cent stake in Zain in a deal that will more than double its stake.
The stake is worth $946 million based on Zain’s current market value. In August, Omantel purchased a 9.84 per cent stake in Zain for $846 million saying the transaction was part of a strategy launched to diversify its investment in the region.
“There will be some pressure on pricing of products with the arrival of the third mobile operator,” a top official of a telecom operator had told the Observer recently.