Orascom wins first N Korea mobile licence

Egyptian operator plans to invest $400mn in infrastructure and licence fees over the next three years.

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By  Alaa Shahine Published  January 30, 2008

Orascom Telecom, the fourth-biggest Arab mobile phone operator by market value, said on Wednesday it has won the first mobile phone licence in North Korea.

The Cairo-based group said in a statement the licence was granted to its subsidiary CHEO Technology, in which the North Korean government also owns 25%.

The statement said OT plans to invest $400 million on infrastructure and licence fees over the next three years. It said the licence duration was for 25 years, with an exclusivity period of four years.

"We are continuing to head in the right strategic direction; our Greenfield licence in the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) is in line with our strategy to penetrate countries with high population and low penetration", the statement quoted OT Chairman and billionaire Naguib Sawiris as saying.

OT said it plans to cover the capital, Pyongyang, and other major cities during the first 12 months of operations. The group has operations in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Shares in the group rose 2.5% to 82.52 Egyptian pounds ($14.85) before the announcement. Traders at the time had attributed the rise in the share price to market speculation OT was planning an acquisition in South, rather than North, Korea. (Reuters)

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