Orascom to bid for Egypt fixed licence

Operator reveals intentions to compete for country's second fixed-line phone licence, to be sold next year.

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By  Reuters Published  September 30, 2007

Orascom Telecom will bid for Egypt's second fixed-line phone licence, which the government plans to sell in 2008, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency said on Sunday.

Etisalat Egypt, a unit of UAE-based Etisalat, has also said it would bid for the licence.

"[Orascom] plans to compete strongly for the second fixed-line phone licence," MENA quoted Orascom Telecom's Chairman Naguib Sawiris as saying.

Minister of Communications Tarek Kamel said in late June that Egypt would offer a licence to operate a second fixed-line network, ending years of monopoly by state-dominated Telecom Egypt.

The second fixed-line network, which would compete with that of Telecom Egypt, would start operating in early 2009, MENA has said.

Egyptian mobile operator Mobinil, in which Orascom owns a 33% stake, said on Sunday it would consider bidding for the fixed line licence either directly or through a shareholder.

Orascom also received a licence on Sunday to build a network of underwater cables and infrastructure for international phone calls, it said.

The 20-year licence allows the Cairo-based group to build 3,850 kilometres of underwater cables and around 1,000 kilometres of inland cables for international calls between Asia and Europe through Egypt.

"This is the first time that such a licence is given to a private-sector operator in Egypt," Orascom said in a statement. It said the cable network would be operational during the first quarter of 2009.

The total investment in the project was $233.8 million, MENA reported.

Shares in Orascom Telecom rose nearly 1% on Sunday to 73.50 Egyptian pounds ($13.17) a share.

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