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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 12:58 GMT
Four win Swiss mobile licences
Man using a mobile phone
The new licences must extend coverage to at least 50% of the population in four years
The Swiss government has raised 205m Swiss francs ($119.8m) in its auction of third-generation mobile phone licences, far less than the 2.5bn Swiss francs it had earlier hoped for.

The four successful bidders were Swisscom, Tele Danmark's dSpeed, France Telecom/Orange and Team 3G, a subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica.

The minimum price for the licences had been set at 50m Swiss francs each but with just four bidders for the same number of licences, the auction was over shortly after it had begun.

"The Swiss market is one of the more attractive in Europe. The mobile phone penetration rate is already at around 50% and it is expected to be above 80% in 2002," Telefonica said in a statement.

The story of European mobile licence auctions this year has been one of widely varying fortunes, with sales in Germany and the UK raising billions of dollars more than expected but auctions in Italy, the Netherlands and Austria falling flat.

Merger activity

The Swiss authorities had hoped 10 bidders would line up for the auction, which had been due to start on 13 November.

But last minute merger and acquisition activity helped reduce the field of prospective bidders to four, leading the Swiss authorities to postpone the auction.

Several options were then considered, including calling a new auction, which would allow fresh bidders to come forward, or abandoning the auction entirely and awarding the licences on a fixed fee basis.

Some of the prospective bidders had said they would consider legal action if Switzerland moved to call a new auction.

The Swiss 3G licences will be valid for 15 years from 2002.

Under the terms of the deals, operators must be able to provide coverage to 50% of Switzerland's population by the end of 2004.


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13 Nov 00 | Business
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