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Omantel Sees $36 Million Gain from State Royalty Cut - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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MUSCAT (Reuters) – A cut in the royalties that Oman

Telecommunications Co (Omantel) pays to the government is expected to add about 14 million rials ($36.37 million) to its 2007 profit, a senior company official said on Saturday.

Nawras, the Omani mobile phone subsidiary of Qatar Telecommunications Co, said it expected the cut to add 2 million rials to its profit in 2007.

“Based on the first-half results, the benefit to the group

(both Omantel and its wholly owned subsidiary Oman Mobile) is 7.15 million rials. If we assume the same revenue for the second half, the gain will be 14.3 million rials,” said the Omantel official, who declined to be named.

“However, the actual benefit will depend on the extent at which Omantel lowers tariffs and the subsequent growth in usage or business volume,” he said.

Nawras CEO Ross Cormack said his company would gain 2 million rials in 2007 from the royalty cut.

“This money will be spent for enhancing customer service. We are spending it for further building our network,” he told Reuters. He said Nawras has a customer base of over 800,000.

Oman’s government announced the cut on Wednesday and said it expected Omantel to lower tariffs.

The royalties were cut to 7 percent of revenue from 10 percent for fixed-line services and from 12 percent for mobile phone services.

Omantel’s subscriber base rose 12.3 percent to 1.73 million in the year to end-June, including 1.35 million mobile phone customers.

“There will not be any revenue loss (for the government), as the business volume or usage grows along with tariff reduction,” said Sankar Kailasam, vice president of Gulf Investment Services.

Oman’s government also said it is planning to sell a portion of its 70-percent holding in Omantel to a strategic investor to make the company more competitive overseas.

According to Omantel’s statutes, the government cannot sell more than 19 percent, Kailasam said. “However, if the strategic investor wants more than 19 percent, the government can change the company’s (statutes) after getting approval from shareholders,” Kailasam added.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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