Kuwait to issue virtual telecom operator license

A photo taken on December 19, 2014 from the top of al-Hamra Tower shows a view of Kuwait City. (AFP)
Updated 15 July 2019

Kuwait to issue virtual telecom operator license

  • Foreign ownership would be subject to Kuwaiti law, which restricts non-Kuwaitis to minority ownership

DUBAI: Kuwait is to issue a virtual telecom operator license, effectively creating a fourth player in a market serving roughly 4 million people.
Virtual network operators do not own the networks they use to provide communications services but instead lease capacity from conventional operators, usually paying them a percentage of their revenue as well as fees.
Kuwait’s Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority has issued a request for applications for the license, according to a document seen by Reuters.
State news agency KUNA also reported a license would be granted.

HIGHLIGHTS

• With the issuance of a license, a fourth player will be created in the Kuwaiti market.

• Applications must be submitted by Nov. 14, 2019.

• The selected application will be announced by Feb. 6, 2020.

• Kuwait’s current telecom providers are Zain, Ooredoo, and Viva.

Applications must be submitted by Nov. 14, 2019 and the selected application will be announced by Feb. 6, 2020, the document shows.

Conditions
The applicant will have to partner with a company that can provide it with the technology, know-how and operational and management experience.
The partner will also own at least 40 percent of shares and have a five-year management agreement. Kuwait’s current telecom providers are Zain, Ooredoo, and Viva. Kuwait’s existing telecom providers, as well as anyone holding 25 percent or more shares in Kuwaiti telecom companies, are not allowed to apply.
Foreign ownership would be subject to Kuwaiti law, which restricts non-Kuwaitis to minority ownership.


STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

Updated 13 July 2020

STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

  • Kingdom’s largest telecom company says it will need an additional two months to complete the deal

CAIRO: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the Kingdom’s largest telecom company, said that it will need an additional two months to complete a deal to purchase a 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In January, STC was in agreement to buy the stake for $2.4 billion. In April, it extended the process for 90 days due to logistical challenges stemming from the spread of COVD-19. The company said in a statement that it would extend the period again to September for the same reason.

The Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owns a majority stake in STC. The ownership of Vodafone Egypt is divided between 55 percent for Vodafone International, which is the target percentage of the Saudi purchase offer, 44.8 percent for Telecom Egypt, and the remaining 0.2 percent for small shareholders.

Telecom Egypt is awaiting the results of Vodafone’s evaluation of the final share price to announce its position on the deal. A Telecom Egypt official stated that the company is still awaiting STC’s position regarding the purchase of the share. If the deal is not completed, it may be presented with its rights to acquire Vodafone’s share, which would allow it to take over 99.8 percent of the company’s shares, leaving 0.2 percent for small investors.

Ashraf El-Wardany, an Egyptian communications expert, pointed out the importance of waiting until the procedures between STC and the Vodafone Group are complete. The results will determine the next steps by Telecom Egypt.

El-Wardany said that the Saudi operator must, after completing the relevant studies, submit a final binding offer at the share price and any conditions for purchase. If approved by Vodafone, it must submit the offer with the same conditions and price to Telecom Egypt, provided that the latter responds within a maximum period of 45 days to determine its position regarding the use of the right of pre-emption and the purchase, or lack thereof, of Vodafone’s share.

According to El-Wardany, there are other possible scenarios. Vodafone International may not be convinced of the offer or the conditions presented by the Saudi side and the sale may be withdrawn, or the Vodafone group may be ready to sell and has prepared another buyer for its stake in Egypt in the event of rejecting the Saudi offer. It may also it back away from the deal and continue to operate in Egypt for a few more years.

El-Wardany said that if Telecom Egypt decides not to use the right of pre-emption to acquire the remaining Vodafone shares for any reason, it will continue with its 44.8 percent stake.
It may also resort to selling all of its shares or part of it to the Saudi side or to any company that wants to acquire its stake.

“This raises the question of whether STC can acquire all of Vodafone’s shares,” El-Wardany said, adding that the coming months “will make the answer clear.”