Former Zain CEO Saad al-Barrak has called on Gulf operators, most of which are government-controlled, to privatise and consolidate to survive in an increasingly tough environment, Reuters reported.
Al-Barrak, who led Zain's rise over the last decade, turning it from a former monopoly operator with fewer than a million subscribers to a global player with operations in 23 countries, said countries in the region are small and the industry is becoming global, so consolidation is extremely important, especially for the smaller companies. Al-Barrak added that regional telecommunication firms must adapt, as falling voice margins weigh heavy on the bottom line. With 11 of the Gulf's 15 mobile licences ultimately government controlled, Barrak conceded such a scenario was unlikely, but he cited the Arab Spring, which has led to the exit of veteran rulers in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya, as evidence the unexpected can happen in the Middle East. He said a failure to liberalise or further privatise telecommunication companies could hurt operators' shares prices.Source: telecompaper.com