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Orascom considers closer ties with Hutchison

Orascom Telecom and Hutchison Telecom jointly operate in 15 countries and had more than 40 million in combined customers as of September 2005.

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding is considering raising its stake in Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications International by 3.3%, according to reports quoting CEO Naguib Sawiris.

"We are currently building our reserves for a possible increase in our stake in Hutchison," Sawiris is quoted as saying.

Orascom, which in December agreed to acquire a 19.3% stake in Hutchison for US$1.3 billion, wants to merge with the Asian telecoms company, Sawiris is reported as saying. Sawiris is seeking to expand in Asia and Africa to make Orascom one of the world's 10 largest telecoms companies.

Orascom has the option to buy a further 3.7% stake in Hutchison in the next 12 months at a price no less than HK$11 (US$1.41) per share. The Egyptian operator and Hutchison Telecom jointly operate in 15 countries and had more than 40 million in combined customers as of September 2005.

The number of subscribers on Orascom-backed networks in 1Q06 to end-March increased to 35 million from 17.5 million a year earlier, according to company figures. The largest increase occurred in Bangladesh, where subscribers rose more than seven times to 1.5 million users.

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