Posts filed under ‘Qatar’
Wataniya Palestine, the second licensed mobile network operator in the Palestinian Territory, has secured funding of USD85 million for the rollout of its mobile network infrastructure, ITP.net reports. In a statement on the Qatar stock exchange it was revealed that the funding has been agreed in the form of a loan between the operator and a group of lenders including the Bank of Palestine, Quds Bank, Commercial Bank of Palestine Limited, Ericsson Credit AB, International Finance Corporation and Standard Bank. Wataniya is expected to launch commercial services in the first half of 2009, and the operator’s CEO, Allan Richardson, has said that it aims to cover the ‘majority’ of the West Bank initially. Extending coverage to Gaza will reportedly be dependent on further negotiations with the government, according to Mr Richardson.
Vodafone Qatar’s CEO Grahame Maher has told the Gulf Times that the start-up is still awaiting approval from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) for an initial public offering (IPO), a pre-requisite for launching services in the country. Vodafone Qatar plans to launch GSM-based mobile services for 1,000 trial users on 1 March, but has not agreed a firm date for an IPO of 40% of its shares, which it previously said should go ahead sometime this month. Maher also told the paper that he was confident that outstanding issues with the state’s current sole operator Qatar Telecom (Qtel), including interconnection charges, would be resolved by the start of March.
The board of Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has decided to delist the company’s shares from the Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE) on 26 February 2009, according to a press release. The Qatari group said it took the decision because of consistently low volume trading of its shares on the BSE and the incremental administrative requirements inherent in the group’s multiple share listings, necessitated by its recent international expansion. Qtel does not anticipate that the delisting will adversely affect the liquidity of the stock, its shareholders or other investors. Qtel listed on the Doha Securities Market in 1998, the BSE in 2001, the Abu Dhabi Securities Market in 2002, and also has a global depositary receipt (GDR) listing on the London bourse (since 1999). Its 51%-owned subsidiary Wataniya Telecom is listed on the Kuwait stock market, whilst the group is currently attempting to take majority control of Indonesian operator Indosat.
In related news, Qtel is reportedly preparing to sell further shares to finance its continuing international acquisition strategy, after ruling out increasing its debt pile to fund new purchases of licences or operators. Qtel initially relied on debt financing to fund its expansion into 17 countries, and by the end of September 2008 its consolidated debt was over QAR29 billion (USD8 billion), compared with around QAR1 billion at the end of 2006. The Qatari government participated in Qtel’s QAR5.86 billion (USD1.6 billion) rights issue in June 2008 to help fund further acquisitions. In 1998 45% of the company’s equity was sold to the public and government-related agencies. No single entity (other than the state) may own over 10% of Qtel’s capital (with telecoms firms limited to 5%).
Mobile start-up Vodafone Qatar has confirmed that it will choose 1,000 people to trial its new GSM network when it is switched on at the beginning of March, reports The Peninsula. The company will conduct a two-month ‘beta trial’, to garner feedback from volunteers ahead of a full commercial launch later in the year. ‘We want a wide sample as possible, reflective of the rich diverse society in Qatar, different ages, men and women,’ a company spokeswoman said.
Derdack, provider of mobile messaging platforms and notification workflow software today announced that al khaliji, a next generation bank based in Qatar, is live on message master(R) xsp. Derdack’s mobile messaging platform has become an integral part of a dynamic and reliable technology base that will support the bank’s strategic business objectives.
Message master(R) xsp met our current and future business requirements better than any other system. We were impressed with its flexibility, ease of use and range of messaging functionality. It has proved to be a reliable and stable system that is easy to configure and maintain, said Ahmad Kandeel, Principal, Information and Communication Technology, al khaliji.
The Qatar Central Bank requires all retail banks to provide SMS confirmations and advices whenever a banking transaction or event takes place. By confirming each element of account activity suspicious transactions can be immediately queried thus minimising the risk of fraud.
Vodafone Qatar expects its delayed initial public offering (IPO) to go ahead next month, Reuters reports. The start-up mobile and fixed line operator is poised to break the monopolies of state-run Qatar Telecom (Qtel) but must first receive approval from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) to proceed with its planned IPO of 40% of its shares. A company spokeswoman told Reuters this morning, ‘Because of market conditions the QFMA told us to hold off and propose a new date, which we did…We will be given a date next month.’ The spokeswoman confirmed that Vodafone Qatar remained on track to launch commercial mobile services on 1 March, over a GSM network with capacity for one million users, although she added, ‘We will have customers on the first day but we don’t know how many. It will be a phased launch approach.’ Negotiations between Vodafone Qatar and Qtel about interconnection charges are ongoing, the spokeswoman said.
A consortium of UK-based Vodafone Group and Qatar Foundation (a non-profit organisation established by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani) won Qatar’s second mobile operating licence in December 2007 with a bid of QAR7.716 billion (USD2.12 billion). It was awarded its 20-year concession on 29 June 2008, after completing legal processes to finalise its ownership structure and submitting plans for an IPO to sell 40% of its shares to the public and 15% to local governmental institutions, as a pre-requisite to launching services in the country. The IPO was originally scheduled for end-June 2008, before a new deadline of 30 November 2008 was put forward, but the company did not get the go-ahead from the financial regulator. After the planned share sales Vodafone Group will control 22.95% of Vodafone Qatar. Of the remainder, Qatar Foundation holds 22.05%, and the rest has been allocated for public shareholders (40%) and government/domestic institutions (Foundation for Education, Science & Community Development [5%], Military Pension Fund [3.3%], Military Staff Loan Funds [3.4%] and Health & Education Endowment [3.3%]).
On 15 September 2008 Vodafone Qatar was announced as the winner of Qatar’s second fixed line network operating licence, with a WiMAX wireless frequency concession thrown in. As the largest single shareholder, Vodafone Group has overall board control and a five-year management contract.
Vodafone Qatar, which is set to launch pre- and post-paid mobile services nationwide on 1 March, says it will establish an international cable landing station in the Middle East country. Vodafone Qatar chief executive officer Grahame Maher told Gulf Times: ‘We have identified some sites in coastal areas to locate Vodafone’s new international landing station in Qatar…to improve international access and redundancy in the country.’ Maher added, ‘There are several organisations looking to bring new cables to Qatar in a joint venture with our partners Qatar Foundation. Having Vodafone in Qatar improves the attractiveness of these cable ventures given the volume of our international traffic and size of our international footprint.’ Initially, the operator will be using the existing landing stations established by incumbent Qatar Telecom (Qtel). Fixed line and mobile licensee Vodafone Qatar plans to offer high speed internet and data communications to mobile customers from the outset.