Saudi telco eyes $1bn in Africa deals

HITS Telecom is looking to buy seven licences in Africa and will target up to 6m users.

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By  Reuters Published  June 11, 2007

Saudi mobile operator HITS Telecom, which won Uganda's fourth GSM licence in March, is looking to spend $1 billion on seven licences in Africa, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported on Monday.

Three deals could be announced in the next two weeks, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, Asharq al-Awsat quoted Mohamed Bahiri, a member of HITS Telecom's board, as saying.

"We also have four mobile licences in other African countries currently under study," Bahiri said, according to the paper.

Officials at HITS Telecom, owned by Riyadh-based House of Integrated Technical Systems Ltd, could not be reached for comment.

HITS Telecom has set up a Cayman Islands-registered subsidiary with a capital of $300 million to manage its operations in Africa, the newspaper said.

It hopes to have between 4 million and 6 million users in Africa in five years, according to the paper.

HITS said in March it would start operations in Uganda by year-end and expected the number of mobile subscribers in the country to at least double in the next five years from 2.2 million now.

Chief Executive Officer Edwin Rowell said HITS would invest $200 million, the bulk of it raised from private equity investors, to set up the Ugandan network.

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