Reuters - Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat) ETEL.AD said on Tuesday it was part of a consortium that had made the highest bid for Iran's third mobile telephone license.
On Monday Iran's semi-official Fars news agency had said the license had been won by Emirates Telecommunications, citing an unnamed source at the telecommunications ministry.
Etisalat, the Arab world's second largest telecommunications firm by market value, said on Tuesday Iran's Communications Regulatory Authority had placed the UAE-based firm "first among others in terms of financial offer."
It said the final announcement of the winner would be made after official approvals. The consortium also includes Iran's Tamin Telecom. Iranian state radio said the non-Iranian firm would have a 49-percent stake in the project.
Among other consortiums that bid for the license were Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel) OTL.OM and a Malaysian firm.
On Monday, the semi-official ILNA news agency had quoted the managing-director of Iran's Telecommunications consortium as saying the bid gap between the first and second bidder was more than five percent.
The two existing operators in Iran are the state telephone company and Irancell, a firm that is 49 percent owned by MTN Group (MTNJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), sub-Saharan Africa's biggest mobile firm.
Iran has a mobile penetration of less than 60 percent in a market where about half of its 70 million people are under 25 years of age.
Etisalat, which operates in 18 countries, is part of a wave of Gulf Arab telecom operators that have launched overseas operations after losing their monopolies at home.
Etisalat's shares were down 2.65 percent in an overall weaker market on the Abu Dhabi bourse .ADX.
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