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Egypt postpones auction for phone licence

Country's telecom regulator says global market woes are behind the move.

Egypt's telecom regulator said on Monday it had decided to postpone an auction for a second fixed-line licence for a year, citing global market woes.

"The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA)... has decided to postpone the auction for the second fixed-line network, which was announced earlier this year, for a year, with a re-examination of offering it again to take place next year," an NTRA statement said.

It said the NTRA had made the decision after consulting the companies that had expressed interest in bidding for the licence.

It added that some of the companies consulted had said communication and information technology companies in U.S. and European markets had suffered due to rising prices and inflation, making the companies wary of new overseas investments.

In July, the NTRA said it had postponed the bid deadline for the licence for a second time to Sept. 18 from July 29, citing turbulent global markets and continuing talks about interconnectivity agreements.

The sale of the licence would end state-run Telecom Egypt's fixed-line monopoly.

The NTRA said 12 companies had expressed interest in the licence, but did not name them.

Companies that have expressed interest include France Telecom, Orascom Telecom, Egypt's Alkan, Egypt's Giza Systems, Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat, Saudi Arabia's Atheeb group, Alcatel-Lucent and Kuwaiti investment firm Noor Financial Co. (Reuters)

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