* Gegenheimer joins Zain as CEO, 6 mths after quitting rival (Adds details)
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s Zain appointed Scott Gegenheimer as group chief executive on Sunday, the former monopoly said in a bourse statement, six months after he quit as CEO of rival telecom operator Wataniya.
Gegenheimer will start his new role immediately, Zain said, replacing Nabeel bin Salama, who in October announced he would step down as group CEO at the end of his contract in February 2013.
Gegenheimer joined Qatar Telecom (Qtel) subsidiary Wataniya in 2002, became CEO in 2008 and resigned from the company in June this year.
Kuwait is a lucrative telecom market, with its wealthy citizens heavy consumers of mobile data, but stiffening competition, tax changes and a lack of an independent regulator has darkened the sector’s outlook.
Zain is the market leader with an estimated 41 percent share of the country’s mobile subscribers at 2011-end, also operating in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Sudan, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan.
Wataniya is the No.2 operator, claiming 39 percent of Kuwait’s mobile subscribers. It also has units in Tunisia, Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives.
Saudi Telecom’s (STC) loss-making affiliate Viva is Kuwait’s third mobile operator. Viva has yet to list on Kuwait’s bourse more than four years after completing an initial public offering. (Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Sami Aboudi)