Etisalat Blames Local Partner for Loss of Iranian License

­The slightly confused situation over Iran's third mobile phone license was  further complicated over the weekend when Etisalat said that it is still in talks with the Iranian regulator to get the license back.

Last week, Mohammad Reza Farnaghi-Zadeh, a spokesman at the Iranian Regulations and Radio Communications Organisation, told the Iranian state news agency that Etisalat would be replaced by a consortium led by Zain. However, Zain said it had only been invited to renew its negotiations as the leader of the consortium that came second in the original bid process.

It has now emerged that the consortium - made up of Etisalat and Iran’s Tamin Telecom - which won the original tender was stripped of its license after Tamin Telecom tried to change the commercial relationship with Etisalat, which has a 49% stake in the joint-venture. The regulator seemingly objected to the changes and cancelled the license.

Etisalat's Chairman, Mohammed Omran told Arabian Business that Etisalat is still in talks with the regulator, but that it would not be working with its previous partner. He does not expect a swift solution to the issue.

The license was notable as in addition to the standard GSM service, it also granted a two-year monopoly for 3G services in Iran.

On the web: Arabian Business