Vodafone to pay Qatar €1.3bn for mobile licence

A unit of Vodafone Group will pay 7.72 billion riyals (€1.3 billion) for Qatar's second mobile phone licence, a Reuters report said.

The report quoted the Gulf state's telecom regulator saying that the deal, originally agreed in December, requires Vodafone to sell shares in incumbent Vodafone Qatar by the end of November: Vodafone owns 51% of Vodafone Qatar while the state-owned Qatar Foundation owns the remainder.

Qatar's Supreme Council of Information & Technology also said operations are to begin in the first quarter of 2009 and will compete with state-controlled Qatar Telecommunications, which runs the country's only mobile and fixed-line networks.

It beat rivals including AT&T to win the license that will end the last Arab mobile-phone monopoly, the report said.

The initial public offering will sell 40% of the company's stock and 15% will be sold to state-owned affiliates, leaving Vodafone and Qatar Foundation with 45%.

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 and Qatar National Bank are advising on the sale, the report further said.