Monday, June 06, 2011

Egypt - Possible delay in issuing a fourth mobile licence

[bloomberg] Egypt’s government may put off a fourth mobile-phone license following the ousting of the former regime, potentially prompting Telecom Egypt to consider a new bid for the rest of Vodafone Group Plc (VOD)’s local unit.

“There are a lot of changes in Egypt now and we are not sure whether launching a new license at this moment is the right decision from the economic point of view,” Communications Minister Magued Osman said yesterday in a phone interview.

Telecom Egypt, the fixed-line monopoly that owns 45 percent of Vodafone’s local unit, has said it wants to offer mobile- phone services and is prepared to acquire an existing operator if it can’t gain a wireless license. Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, ended talks last June to sell the business after Telecom Egypt (ETEL) initiated negotiations.

“They were looking to sell previously,” said James Crawshaw, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s Equity Research. “It could be another boost for the shares if they can sell it for a good valuation,” he said, adding that Vodafone is focusing on selling its stake in Polish operator Polkomtel SA.

Vodafone has risen 31 percent in the last 12 months, compared with a 15 percent gain in the U.K.’s FTSE 100 benchmark index. Sanford C Bernstein’s Robin Bienenstock last year valued the company’s holding in Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co. at about 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion).

Vodafone spokesman Simon Gordon declined to comment. Spokesmen for Telecom Egypt couldn’t immediately be reached.

Egypt May Put Off Fourth Mobile-Phone License, Reviews Intervention Law

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