Egypt's Orascom triples H1 profit

Telecoms operator's first-half income is boosted by the sale of an Indian subsidiary of Hutchison Telecom.

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By  Reuters Published  September 4, 2007

Egyptian Orascom Telecom Holding tripled first-half net income on Monday to $995 million, boosted by the sale of an Indian subsidiary of Hutchison Telecom.

The Cairo-based group, one of the biggest mobile phone operators in the Middle East, holds a 19.3% stake in Hutchison Telecom, which sold its Indian subsidiary Hutchison Essar, generating a $708-million gain for Orascom.

Orascom Telecom said in a statement earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 18% to $1.086 billion compared to the first half of 2006.

Total subscribers exceeded 61 million, up 51% on June 2006, the statement said.

Orascom, headed by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, has operations in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Iraq.

The group said earlier on Monday it has agreed to a $2.2 billion Iraq joint venture with Kurdish operator Korek Telecom, sending its shares sharply higher.

The venture would have immediate access to the northern region of Iraq and would have four million subscribers, a 40% market share, Orascom said.

Korek paid $1.25 billion for one of three Iraqi mobile licences sold last month at an auction in Jordan, replacing those awarded after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's government in 2003.

Orascom, which set up a network under a licence bought in 2003, pulled out of the auction in Jordan and said it could consider selling its operation.

Orascom would hold 70% of the venture and Korek 30 per cent, Orascom said.

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