RIYADH, (Reuters) – Consortia led by Bahrain Telecommunications Co. , Hong Kong’s PCCW and U.S. Verizon Communications have won initial approval to operate Saudi Arabia’s new fixed-line phone network, the telecom regulator said on Saturday.
“CITC has approved the applications by the three bidders,” Abdulrahman al-Fehaid, deputy governor for Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, told Reuters.
“Ideally, and if the council of ministers approved their applications, we will have four fixed-line operators,” he said.
The country earlier this month shortlisted the three groups for licences to build a second fixed-line telephone network across the country, ending the monopoly of state-controlled Saudi Telecom Co.
The three firms set up to operate the fixed-line services would also sell shares in initial public offerings, he said.
“All of them must offer a 25 percent stake of their capital to the public and 10 percent to state pension funds before the start of commercial operations,” Fehaid said.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, is the Gulf Arab region’s biggest telecom market.