Virgin Mobile awarded MVNO Licence in Saudi Arabia

Award confirms Virgin Mobile as the undisputed leader in MVNO operations in the Middle East and Africa

Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) today announced that the Board of Directors of the Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia (CITC) have approved the grant of a MVNO License to Virgin Mobile Saudi Consortium.

The CITC started the MVNO licence application process in early 2013, and numerous MVNO applicants vied for the privilege of serving the Saudi consumer telecom market. This process has now been concluded with the award of one of the new licenses to the consortium led by VMMEA.

VMMEA already serves over 1 million customers across its five operations, positioning the company as the undisputed leader in the MVNO sector in the Middle East and Africa region. The award of the licence in Saudi Arabia, considered to be the most important regional market, is a significant milestone for VMMEA. The company plans to launch Virgin Mobile operations in other countries in the region and further consolidate its position as the MVNO market leader.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group commented, “I am delighted that we are able to bring the Virgin Mobile experience to our Saudi Arabian customers. The award of this licence further consolidates our position as the market leading MVNO in the region, positioning Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa perfectly for future growth. I look forward to hopefully sharing further exciting announcements across the region as we develop the business.

Sir Richard Branson pioneered the MVNO business model in the late 1990s when he launched Virgin Mobile in the United Kingdom. With operations stretching across Europe, Asia, South America, and North America, Virgin Mobile is today the biggest MVNO brand globally, serving close to 20 million customers.

Following the award of the MVNO license in Saudi Arabia, the VMMEA consortium is now poised for the commercial launch in Saudi Arabia that is expected during first half of 2014.

“We have already progressed very far with our preparations for the launch in Saudi Arabia. We have received an enthusiastic welcome with more than 35,000 people providing us with their CV over the past six months to be considered for jobs in Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia” said Mikkel Vinter, CEO and founder of VMMEA. “We feel very fortunate to experience this level of interest in a new mobile brand before it has even launched, and it shows the strong trust in Virgin Mobile and the excitement in the market about the launch” added Mikkel Vinter.

VMMEA is backed by well-respected global and regional shareholders, including Virgin Group, Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) and ePlanet Capital.

“We would like to congratulate Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa and thank the CITC for awarding our consortium an MVNO licence in Saudi Arabia” commented Meshary Al-Judaimi, ‎Division Head Telecoms, Utilities & Financial Services, Gulf Investment Corporation. “We look forward to participating in the Virgin Mobile success story and growing our relationship with Virgin across the region. We see a major opportunity for the Virgin Mobile brand in the Middle East and Africa, and we are confident that the brand is well positioned to bring customers a superb value proposition and customer experience.”

There is consensus among telecom industry analysts that Virgin Mobile brings some unique assets and skills from its experience in global markets, and there is little doubt that customers in Saudi Arabia will see more choice in the mobile telecom market during 2014.