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Telecom Egypt’s second GSM sell-out?

Telecom Egypt is reported to be seeking partners to help it set up a third GSM operation in Egypt.

Telecom Egypt is reported to be seeking partners to help it set up a third GSM operation in Egypt. Last time TE entered the mobile market, the operation was rapidly sold off to Mobinil, a company that is partly owned by France Telecom. Vodafone has the majority stake in Egypt’s second GSM mobile phone operator, Click Vodafone.

Setting up a GSM operation is hard work, according to Telecom Egypt’s chairman Akil Beshir. He said that the national carrier will need the financial and technological muscles of a foreign operator to succeed with the exercise, which will begin in 2002. “We need the experience and expertise of an international operator so that we can compete with the likes of France Telecom and Vodafone,” he told Reuters.
Major player
Facing the competition, TE’s Beshir said the partner-to-be must be one of the major players with activities in more than one country. “It must be willing to invest... and have a commitment to helping develop the operation,’’ he added.
Last year when the government first began speaking about the possibilities of a third GSM operator in Egypt, it said Telecom Egypt would be awarded the third licence since a GSM operation is a valuable asset to any company. A minority share of TE is likely to be offered to the public this year.
Responding to fears that the TE would try to get back into the GSM business without paying a licence fee, the language of the government changed. Now it says TE still has a licence, despite the sell out to Mobinil.
Beshir said the details of the tender have not been set, but TE will hold on to the majority share in the new GSM company. The minister of communications and information technology earlier told CommsEgypt he does not exclude the possibility of a fourth or fifth GSM operator in Egypt.
Although known for speaking warmly about competition in the telecommunications market, the minister may face tough political opposition if he tries to award these licences at the same time as TE are allowed to enter the market when the current exclusivity period ends next year.

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