Bharti, Reliance lose in Saudi mobile license

India’s Bharti and Reliance-led consortium lost out in the race for Saudi Arabia’s third mobile phone network’s license which was won by Kuwait’s Mobile Telecom Company (MTC) with a bid offer of SR 22.91 billion ($ 6.11 billion).

Many international telecom companies were vying to win the Kingdom’s third mobile license, including Samawat-Bharti (which offered SR17.25 billion) and Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al-Rajhi-Reliance (SR11.25 billion).

The Saudi Council of Ministers at its weekly Cabinet meeting, chaired by Crown Prince Sultan, approved the setting up of the Saudi Mobile Telecom Company (SMTC), a firm established by MTC. “The new company is licensed to establish and operate a mobile telephone network and provide its services at local, national and international levels,” Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani told the Saudi Press Agency.

The company plans to raise its customer base to 70 million and its capitalization to $30 billion by 2011.

Saudi Arabia is the Middle East’s fastest growing telecom nation.