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Orascom says to bid for third Saudi mobile license - Daily News Egypt

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Orascom says to bid for third Saudi mobile license

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Orascom Telecom will be among bidders for a third mobile phone license in Saudi Arabia, but does not intend to take a large stake, Chairman Naguib Sawiris said on Saturday. Saudi authorities plan to grant new mobile and fixed-line licenses by the end of the year, breaking a monopoly of Saudi Telecom …


SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Orascom Telecom will be among bidders for a third mobile phone license in Saudi Arabia, but does not intend to take a large stake, Chairman Naguib Sawiris said on Saturday. Saudi authorities plan to grant new mobile and fixed-line licenses by the end of the year, breaking a monopoly of Saudi Telecom (STC) on landline phone services and adding at least a third mobile phone operator after STC and Etihad (Mobily). With some 14.5 million mobile lines in a country of around 25 million, Saudi s wireless segment is set for growth. We are interested and we are going to bid, Sawiris told Reuters in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh. We are not going to disclose how we will bid. But we do not intend to take a major stake, we will take a small stake; this one is going to be expensive. The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) plans to publish the licensing schedule in the third quarter of the year and evaluate, select and award the new licenses by the end of the fourth. Orascom has expanded rapidly in emerging markets by offering mobile subscriptions at rock-bottom prices but slashing costs to offset the weak revenue. The strategy has given it the financial muscle to contemplate an assault on lucrative European markets after it acquired a base in Italy by buying local mobile operator Wind. Orascom controls Italy s second-biggest mobile phone service provider through Weather Investments, which it aims to float on the stock market, raising about 2 billion euros. Sawiris said a rapid reduction in Wind s debt meant there was no hurry to proceed with the Weather listing. We have no deadline and we have no pressure … If we don t feel that the markets are good and it s the right time, we will not do it, he said. The other opportunity is to give it a year … We are actually a year or two ahead with our (Wind) deleveraging plans, we already paid the first two installments which were due in 2008, so it shows we are generating more cash than we anticipated. Sawiris said Orascom s financial results, to be published on Sunday after the close of share trading, would show the company was on track to achieve its targets. My priority is maintaining a dominant position in my emerging markets, being the number-one operator and expanding market share and maintaining my margin or even increasing my margin, and we are doing that, he said. So our numbers, when they are announced tomorrow, will see a definite increase. He said the company hoped to maintain an EBITDA profit margin of 47 to 48 percent for its GSM operations this year, that revenue would grow and that a target of 50 million subscribers for Orascom Telecom by the end of the year was now quite easy to accomplish. Reuters

Topics: FJP

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