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Etisalat Egypt rings in 400,000 users

Ambitious overseas expansion plans hope to boost coverage to 90% of Egypt by 2009.

The number of subscribers to Emirates Telecommunications Corp.'s (Etisalat) Egyptian unit has reached 400,000 since the company began service this month, its chief executive said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Etisalat, the third-largest Arab telecoms firm by market value, is seeking to almost double the number of its mobile users to 40 million by the end of the year as it expands in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Etisalat Chairman Mohammed Omran has said 3 million of those users would be in Egypt, where the company won an auction for a third mobile licence.

"Statistics available to now confirm that the number of subscribers to Etisalat's (Egyptian) network has reached 400,000," Etisalat Egypt Chief Executive Saleh al-Abdouly said in the interview in Al Alam Al Youm daily.

Etisalat Egypt was planning to spend 6 billion to 8 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.1-$1.4 billion) over the next three years to boost coverage to 80% of Egypt by 2008 and 90% by 2009, Abdouly said earlier this month.