Mobinil expects subscriber base to jump 30%

Egyptian mobile operator to have nearly 20mn customers by end of 2008, CEO says.

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By  Will Rasmussen Published  April 14, 2008

Egypt mobile operator Mobinil expects to have nearly 20 million subscribers by the end of the year, a 33% jump in a year, as it signs up people with lower incomes, its chief executive said on Monday.

"2008 is still a high growth year," Alex Shalaby told newswire Reuters in an interview. "We should have close to 20 million subscribers by the end of the year."

Mobinil, Egypt's largest operator by subscribers, had between 16 million and 17 million subscribers by the end of March, Shalaby said, having finished 2007 with more than 15 million subscribers, beating its own forecast.

Net profit will slow from the 20% growth in 2007 as competition increases, Shalaby said.

Mobinil, whose shareholders include France Telecom and Orascom Telecom, competes with Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone Egypt.

"We don't expect 20% but net profit growth certainly will be in the teens in 2008," Shalaby said. "There is high usage and growing subscribers."

Mobinil has rejected a request from Egypt's telecommunications regulator to pay interest on delayed payment of a 750 million Egyptian pound ($138 million) instalment for a 3G service license fee, Shalaby said.

Mobinil said earlier this month it would pay the fee on around June 13 instead of April 1, because of a delay in handing over the frequency band for Mobinil to do testing before the service begins.

"They have verbally asked us [to pay interest]," Shalaby said. "We don't accept that."

Mobinil could also join a consortium bidding for a second fixed-line licence Egypt is expected to auction in June, Shalaby said. (Reuters)

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