DUBAI, (Reuters) – A unit of Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s largest mobile company by revenues, will pay 7.72 billion riyals ($2.12 billion) for Qatar’s second mobile phone licence, the Gulf state’s telecom regulator said on Tuesday.
The deal, originally agreed in December, requires Vodafone to sell shares in unit Vodafone Qatar by the end of November, Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information & Technology said.
Operations are to begin in the first quarter of 2009 and will compete with state-controlled Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel), which runs the country’s only mobile and fixed-line networks.
Britain’s Vodafone owns 51 percent of Vodafone Qatar while the state-owned Qatar Foundation owns the remainder.
It beat rivals including AT&T to win the licence that will end the last Arab mobile-phone monopoly.
The initial public offering will sell 40 percent of the company’s stock and 15 percent will be sold to state-owned affiliates, leaving Vodafone and Qatar Foundation with 45 percent.
The November deadline for the IPO is later than a June target originally outlined but the regulator did not explain the apparent delay.
HSBC Holding Plc and Qatar National Bank are advising on the sale.
Gulf Arab states have been opening up their telecom industries to competition.
Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications Co won Saudi Arabia’s third mobile-phone licence as part of a group of companies for $6.11 billion.
In November, state-controlled Saudi Telecom Co won a stake in Kuwait’s third mobile phone company, bidding 248.7 million dinars ($938.5 million).