x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Etisalat drops $122 million bid for Syrian mobile licence say reports

On The Wires: Etisalat is reported to have dropped its plans to bid for Syria's third mobile licence, said to have been worth $122 million.

Etisalat has scrapped plans to bid for Syria's third mobile licence, Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) said on its website, in the latest blow to the firm's drive to expand its Middle East footprint.

The UAE company is unhappy with the 25 per cent revenue share demanded by Syria, London-based MEED said, citing anonymous sources close to the deal.

Etisalat was not immediately available for comment. The bid would have been worth a minimum of $122 million (Dh447m), MEED said.

The Syrian government has said five bidders - Etisalat, France Telecom, Qatar Telecom, Turkcell and Saudi Telecom — have qualified for the license auction. Bids are due April 12.

Syria has been crippled by growing political unrest recently in which more than 60 people have been killed so far.

Earlier this month, Etisalat scrapped a $12 billion takeover of Kuwait rival Zain, citing Zain's divided board, extended due diligence and regional unrest.

This deal would have given Etisalat a presence in Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and Sudan.

The former monopoly already operates in 18 countries, including Saudi Arabia, India and Egypt.

Mobile penetration in the UAE was 238 per cent in 2010, more than twice the Middle East average, and is expected to reach 250 per cent by 2015, Nomura wrote in a research note this week.