Vodafone Qatar to sue regulator over Virgin entry
Doha, May 26, 2010
Cellphone network operator Vodafone Qatar said on Wednesday it is taking legal action against Qatar's telecoms regulator, after it allowed Virgin Mobile's entry, saying it represents a third service provider.
The firm, a unit of Vodafone, said in a statement it saw Virgin Mobile's entry as a violation of the conditions to its licence, which cost shareholders 7.7 billion Qatari riyals, and the telecoms law in Qatar.
Earlier in May, Virgin Group signed a partnership with Qatar Telecom (Qtel) to launch Virgin Mobile Qatar in a brand licensing agreement to offer a prepaid mobile phone service.
"We are taking legal action for the damages this has caused our shareholders," said Chairman Sheikh Abdulrahman Bin Saud Al-Thani in a statement. "We are simply protecting their interests; 82,000 of which are individual Qataris that paid 40 percent of the second Mobile Licence fee."
Vodafone Qatar said the telecommunications regulator -- or the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) -- permitted Virgin Mobile to enter the market "without being licensed".
Vodafone won the bid for Qatar's second mobile telephone licence for $2.12 billion in 2007, to break the monopoly of Qatar Telecom (Qtel).
Vodafone Qatar reported a net loss of 673.4 million riyals ($185.1 million) in its 2009-10 fiscal year, but said its revenue was 26 percent ahead of plan.
The firm, which listed on the Qatari bourse in July 2009, posted a revenue of 361.5 million riyals for the year to March 31 as its customer base surged to almost 465,000.