(AME Info (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 11--ROYALTY RATES SET FOR UAE TELECOMS OPERATORS: The UAE finance ministry has set royalty rates on the Gulf state's two telecoms operators, which will raise the amount paid into federal coffers, Reuters has reported. The ministry said Etisalat will pay a royalty of 15 percent on its revenues and 35 percent on profits between 2012 and 2015. Meanwhile, the country's second operator, Du will be required to pay a 17.5 percent royalty on profits in 2012 and 5 percent on revenues, the ministry said. Du's profit royalty will incrementally rise to 30 percent by 2015 while the fee it pays to the government on its revenue will increase to 15 percent by 2016, it added.
LG OPTIMUS VU LAUNCHED IN UAE: South Korean mobile phone maker LG Electronics has announced the new Optimus Vu smartphone is now available in the UAE. The smartphone features a 5" IPS touchscreen display that can deliver a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, an 8MP camera with a 1.3MP front camera for making video calls. The new handset comes with 32GB of internal memory, a 2080 mAh battery, and Google's Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system on board.
CITC LIFTS BAN ON MOBILY'S PRE-PAID SIM SALES: Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has announced the resumption of sales of prepaid SIM cards, after the communications authority lifted a temporary suspension imposed at the end of last month, Zawya Dow Jones has reported. The kingdom's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) had suspended the sale of Mobily's prepaid SIM cards to new subscribers on the grounds the company was not fully compliant with prepaid service provisioning requirements. The CITC, after carrying out some research, had "ensured that the company has fulfilled all regulations related to providing prepaid mobile calling services, including the linkage of recharge with customers identification numbers," Mobily said.
SAUDI REGULATOR SEEKS DEACTIVATION OF EXPATS' SIM CARDS UPON FINAL EXIT: Saudi Arabia's telecoms regulator is set to ask mobile phone operators to deactivate chips of expatriates leaving the kingdom on exit-only visas as part of its efforts to prevent misuse of the facility, Arab News has reported. The move comes after the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) noticed that some expatriate workers were selling mobile SIM cards in the name of foreigners who have already left the country, said spokesman of CITC, Sultan Al-Malik.
QTEL SELECTS LENDERS FOR POSSIBLE BOND: Qtel has mandated six banks for a possible benchmark-sized dollar-denominated bond, Reuters has reported. Roadshows kick off on December 9 in the UAE before meetings in London, Hong Kong, New York, Singapore and Boston, concluding on December 11, leading arrangers said. Benchmark-sized is typically at least $500m.
JORDAN SEEKING NEW MOBILE OPERATOR: Jordan's Telecoms Regulatory Commission (TRC) is planning a major tender of mobile spectrum, with the aim introducing a new operator on the market, Telecompaper has reported. Expressions of interest to participate in the tender should be submitted by 17 January 2013, although the TRC left open the possibility of other parties joining the tender after further details are released.
BATELCO TO BORROW $650M FOR CWC DEAL: Batelco has said it is close to sealing a $650m loan deal that will allow it to buy Cable & Wireless Communications assets in Monaco and elsewhere, Reuters has reported. The bridge loan for up to 12 months will be replaced by a bond, said Peter Kaliaropoulos, Batelco's chief executive for strategic assignments. The loan with Citigroup and BNP Paribas will fund the first stage of the acquisition, which totals $680m and will see state-controlled Batelco buy CWC's Monaco and Islands division. The company will decide how to finance the second stage of the acquisition within the next 12 months, Kaliaropoulos said.
OBIC ACQUIRES RENNA MOBILE STAKE: Oman Brunei Investment Co (OBIC) has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Omani-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Renna Mobile, by injecting capital into the company, Times of Oman has reported. Renna Mobile launched its operation in Oman in May 2009 after having secured an MVNO agreement with Omantel and a licence from Oman's Telecoms Regulatory Authority.
FRIENDI PLANS IPO WITHIN TWO YEARS: Dubai-based Friendi Group is looking to launch an initial public offering in the next two years, The National has reported. Earlier this year, Friendi partnered with the UK's Virgin Media Group to expand its reach in the region. Virgin is now the biggest single shareholder with a "significant minority stake," said Mikkel Vinter, the chief executive of Friendi. "Hopefully with this new sign- up with Virgin, we think we are in an even better position in the market [and] our plans to IPO remain," said Vinter. "We are going through a process now where are rebranding some of the business. We obviously want to see some of that on the ground before we take the next steps."
IPHONE 5 TO OFFICIALLY GO ON SALE DEC 14 IN GCC: Apple has announced that it will officially launch the iPhone 5 for sale in the GCC on December 14. The announcement comes more than two months after the initial launch of the smartphone in the US and other markets. The California-based technology giant said the device would be rolled out in more than 50 markets this month. The iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, featuring an A6 chip and an improved battery life.
ASIACELL TO LAUNCH IPO EARLY NEXT MONTH: Iraqi telecom operator Asiacell has said it will launch its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) on January 3, in what is likely to be the country's largest-ever share sale, Reuters has reported. Asiacell, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom (Qtel), aims to sell a quarter of its stock in the IPO and will list on the Iraq Stock Exchange on February 3, a company spokesman said. Asiacell and rival operators Zain Iraq and France Telecom affiliate Korek had been required to float a quarter of their shares by August 2011 as part of their $1.25bn licence agreements.
BATELCO TO ACQUIRE CWC ASSETS FOR $1BN: Batelco has said it has agreed to buy the assets of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in a deal worth up to $1bn, hoping growth overseas will offset falling revenue and market share at home, Reuters has reported. The state-controlled firm will buy CWC's Monaco and Islands division, which own stakes in telecom operators in 12 markets including the Maldives, Channel Islands and the Seychelles, providing fixed-line, mobile, broadband and television services. It will also buy a 25 percent shareholding in Compagnie Monagesque de Communications (CMC), which holds CWC's 55 percent interest in Monaco Telecom. Monaco Telecom in turn holds a 36.8 percent stake in Roshan, a mobile phone operator in Afghanistan. "Batelco's revenues and earnings are going down and the company is looking at cost reduction and restructuring to boost its margins," said a Middle East telecom analyst. "Batelco wanted to buy brownfield operations (established businesses), it didn't want new licences, and there aren't many available at the $1bn ticket range."
SAUDI REGULATOR APPROVES MOBILY'S BONUS SHARE: Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has said Saudi Arabia's stock market regulator has approved a 10 percent bonus share, Reuters has reported. The operator, an affiliate of the UAE's Etisalat, will give shareholders one new bonus share for every 10 held. This will raise the number of shares issued to 770 million from 700 million. Each share has a nominal value of SR10, meaning Mobily's capital will increase to SR7.7bn ($2.05bn) from the current SR7bn.
ZAIN APPOINTS FORMER WATANIYA CHIEF AS CEO: Kuwait's Zain has named Scott Gegenheimer as group chief executive, six months after he quit as CEO of rival telecoms operator Wataniya, Reuters has reported. Gegenheimer will start his new role immediately, Zain said, replacing Nabeel bin Salama, who in October announced he would step down as group CEO at the end of his contract in February 2013. He joined Qtel's subsidiary Wataniya in 2002, became CEO in 2008 and resigned from the company in June this year.
APPLE ENABLES LTE ACCESS ONLY AFTER TESTING OPERATORS' NETWORKS: Swiss telecoms operator Swisscom has said Apple Inc. is not allowing mobile operators to offer the iPhone 5 as an LTE device unless they pass the Californian vendor's own independent tests for LTE network performance, Telecoms.com has reported. "Apple only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator's live network," a Swisscom spokesman said. Bengt Nordstrom, founder and CEO at industry consultancy NorthStream said this proved "who is running the industry." Apple have put themselves in the driving seat; it's really changing the game, he added.
ZAIN KSA EXTENDS SR9BN LOAN FOR 21 DAYS: Zain Saudi has extended yesterday the maturity of a SR9bn ($2.4bn) Islamic loan for another 21 days, the fifth time the loss-making telecom operator has deferred payment, Reuters has reported. The affiliate of Kuwait's Zain has agreed with lending banks to put back the maturity of the murabaha facility originally due in July 2011, until December 19. The firm said the purpose of this extension was to allow it and its lenders the opportunity to finalise a new long-term financing agreement to replace the existing one.
ETISALAT EXPRESSES SUPPORT TO MOBILY AFTER SIM BAN: Etisalat has said it is committed to its Saudi Arabian affiliate, Mobily, after the kingdom's regulator banned it from selling pre-paid SIM cards, Reuters has reported. "Etisalat is committed to this relationship and support of Mobily," Etisalat chief executive Ahmad Julfar said. "Etisalat has always maintained its keenness to strengthen its investment in Saudi Arabia through Mobily as it views the Saudi Arabia as a very important and key market in its portfolio." The company also said reiterated it wants to raise its stake in Mobily, if given the chance.
OMANI-CHINESE ALLIANCE AWARDED FIXED-LINE LICENCE FOR MUSCAT: Oman has awarded a consortium of Awaser Oman Co and Hong Kong-based PCCW International a first-class licence to set up and operate a system for public fixed telecoms in Muscat governorate, Muscat Daily has reported. Awaser Oman is managed and advised by leading practitioners in the sultanate's telecoms industry, while PCCW International is a wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW Ltd, a Hong Kong-based international telecom operator with significant interests in Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE.
REGULATOR SUSPENDS SALE OF MOBILY PRE-PAID SIM CARDS: Saudi Arabia's second-largest telecoms operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has announced it has been suspended from selling pre-paid SIM cards by the industry regulator, Reuters has reported. The suspension by the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) is to remain halted until the company "fully meets the prepaid service provisioning requirements," the firm said. According to the requirements, all pre-paid SIM users must enter a personal identification number when recharging their accounts and that this number must be the same as the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM card was bought. Mobily said the financial impact of the CITC's decision would be "insignificant," claiming data, corporate and post-paid revenues would meet its main growth drivers.
1.8BN 'UNCONNECTED' USERS TO BE TARGETED BY MOBILE INDUSTRY BY 2017: According to a research by Wireless Intelligence, the global mobile industry has the opportunity to target an additional 1.8 billion 'unconnected' people over the next five years. The report said there will be a total 'addressable' mobile subscriber base of around five billion people by 2017, up from about 4.7 billion this year. More than one in two people worldwide is forecast to have subscribed to a mobile service in five years as subscriber penetration climbs to 53 percent in 2017, up from 45 percent in 2012, the report said.
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