Middle East telecom giants will eye Asian, European markets

April 1st, 2008 - 7:02 pm ICT by admin  

(Gulf Business Capsule)

Dubai, April 1 (IANS) Telecom giants in the Middle East will seek to acquire small stakes in large players in southeast and central Asia and southern and eastern Europe, according to a new report. This comes in the wake of consolidation in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region last year, the report by Dubai-based telecoms advisory and investment firm Delta Partners said.

With stiff competition coming from European operators, pan-regional players will be looking to step up on their game to compete with European players’ strong operational and managerial experience, innovative research development and globally recognisable brands.

This year, newly established pan-Middle East players would need to watch out for global players and competition from other emerging markets such as China, Russia and India, which are becoming more aggressive with their bids within the emerging markets in the MEA region, the report said.

“This year, Delta Partners also foresees that the consolidation landscape will be characterized by pan-regional players seeking controlling stakes in single country operators across the region,” it stated.

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Saudi Arabia cuts customs tariff on 180 items

Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers has agreed to cut by 15 to 20 percent the customs tariff on 180 products, including foodstuffs, building materials and consumer goods.

Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani told the Saudi Press Agency that the government would bear the difference between the unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) customs tariff and the country’s protection tariff for three years.

Saleh Al-Khulaiwi, director general of customs, said the by-products of wheat would be exempt from previous tariff in accordance with the new Cabinet decision. A 25 percent tariff was earlier imposed on these products, he added.

“The new decision also covers several products - including frozen chicken, eggs, vegetable oil, macaroni, milk, juices and canned food - that were previously imported after paying a tariff of 20 percent. Tariffs for these items have been reduced to five percent,” Al-Khulaiwi said.

He said the revised tariff would come into effect from Tuesday at entry points to the country.

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UAE real estate firm plans 3 bn dirham investment

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based joint stock company said it was planning to invest 3 billion dirhams in the UAE real estate market by the year-end.

“We will be investing 3 billion dirhams in at least four projects by the end of the year,” Mada’in Properties chief executive Abdulaziz Al Awar told the Emirates Business 24-7 newspaper at the unveiling of the company’s Marina Arcade in Dubai Marina.

“We want and are focusing on building iconic developments,” he said.

The 1.25 billion dirham ($341 million) Marina Arcade project will be an exclusive precinct in Dubai Marina that will offer residents shopping avenues, coupled with a mix of residential and leisure facilities.

Marina Arcade’s 950,125.68 square feet area will encompass freehold residential units, as well as a podium building that includes retail space and recreational facilities.

“We have identified the UAE as a key growth area for us. However, we are looking for opportunities and we will expand to other GCC countries in 2009,” Al Awar said.

Headquartered in Dubai, Mada’in has a paid-up share capital of 500 million dirhams, and its main investors include leading conglomerates in the UAE and GCC.

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Oman to further open up telecom sector

The rapidly expanding telecom sector in Oman will be further liberalised.

Addressing the Majlis Ashura’s seventh regular session of its first annual sitting, Mohammad Bin Nasser Al Khusaibi, secretary-general of the ministry of national economy and chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), said setting up of TRA was part of a government initiative to liberalise and develop the telecom sector in the country.

“Since its establishment, the TRA has been implementing a strategic plan to liberalise the sector and introduce competition in a fair and transparent manner,” the Gulf News Quoted Al Khusaibi as saying.

The penetration level of telecom sector in Oman is over 90 percent with mobile telephone network service offered by two different operators.

Stating that TRA first introduced competition in the mobile telecommunications sector by granting a second licence in March 2005, Al Khusaibi said: “The competition has yielded in providing customers with more options, novel services and packages, quality service and new job opportunities and low service tariffs.”

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