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Noor Financial to bid for Egypt telecom licence

Kuwaiti investment firm will be competing against likes of Orascom and Etisalat.

Kuwaiti investment firm Noor Financial Company said it would bid for Egypt's second fixed-line telephone licence and had dropped plans to compete for a stake in Egyptian lender Banque du Caire.

"We are applying for it," Noor Financial Managing Director Naser Al-Marri told newswire Reuters of the licence Egypt plans to auction on June 19. Noor unit Noortel will bid, Marri said on Sunday.

Egypt is to hold an auction for the licence on June 19. Six other companies have already expressed interest, including France Telecom, Orascom Telecom, Egypt's Alkan, Egypt's Giza Systems, Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat and Saudi's Atheeb group.

Al-Marri declined to say whether Noor would team up with France Telecom, with which it has a partnership to investment in the telecoms industry in the Middle East.

He said a group of banks and investment firms from Saudi Arabia were in talks to acquire a 10% stake in Noortel, while France Telecom is also interested in buying into the firm, though no decision had yet been made.

"There is an interest, but we don't know yet," he said of France Telecom.

Noor Financial, the investment arm of Kuwaiti conglomerate National Industries Holding Group, wants to raise 53.9 million Kuwait dinars by selling a 49% stake in its telecom unit.

The deal will close around June 5, Noor said on Thursday.

Noor and some partners will keep the remaining 51% in the firm, which operates according to Islamic rules and invests in the telecoms industry in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, according to its website.

The investment firm pulled out of plans to bid for Banque du Caire, of which the Egyptian government wants to sell as much as 67% by the end of this month.

"We are out," Al-Marri said. "We couldn't reach any agreement with the banks." (Reuters)

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