Etisalat abandons Syrian mobile licence bid

Operator cites dissatisfaction with 25% revenue sharing with Syrian government
Etisalat decides not to submit a bid for Syrian mobile license
Etisalat decides not to submit a bid for Syrian mobile license

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UAE telco Etisalat has turned down its interest in bidding for the third mobile licence in Syria.Etisalat said the terms and conditions as unsuitable for the operator "to achieve its objectives" in terms of technology and the value it can bring to the market.

A report from London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) stated that Etisalat was unhappy with the Syrian government's demand that the winning bidder pays a 25% revenue share.

Ahmed bin Ali, senior vice president for corporate communications, Etisalat Group, said: "We worked hard on this opportunity especially due to the close relations with our sister country Syria, but we hoped that the terms and conditions for the license would have been more attractive."

The auction for the third mobile licence in Syria is set to begin in April with a minimum reserve of $122 million. Other operators qualified to bid for the auction are Qatar Telecom, France Telecom, Saudi Telecom and Turkcell. The Syrian government announced its intention to award a third mobile licence in August 2010.

Syria's mobile market is currently dominated by Syriatel and MTN Syria, which both operate under build, operate and transfer licences.

Earlier this month, Etisalat shunned a $12 billion Zain stake stating the Kuwaiti firm's divided board, extended due diligence, and political unrest in the region as the reasons.

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