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France Telecom in mix for Egypt telecom licence

European telco joins five Arab companies eyeing second fixed-line licence.

France Telecom has expressed interest in buying Egypt's second fixed-line licence, joining five Arab companies that are also interested, Egypt's telecom regulator said on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) said France Telecom had bought a booklet of conditions for the sale of the telecom licence on Monday.

The other five companies that have expressed interest are Orascom Telecom, Egypt's Alkan, Egypt's Giza Systems, UAE-based Etisalat, and Saudi's Atheeb group, the NTRA spokesman said.

The telecom regulator has said it would auction the licence on June 19, bringing Egypt one step closer to ending the monopoly of state-run Telecom Egypt, currently the country's sole fixed-line operator.

Etisalat led a group of investors that paid $2.9 billion to become Egypt's third mobile operator in 2006, with the right to offer higher-bandwidth 3G technology in the most populous Arab country. (Reuters)

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