Telecom Egypt studying $560m plan for 4G licence

Telecom Egypt is ready to buy a 4G licence, a move that would allow three rivals to start offering fixed-line services in Egypt, giving the country four competing integrated operators.

The company’s three competitors are Etisalat, Orange and Vodafone, each of which have already been offered unified licences, which will allow them to compete for fixed and 4G LTE services.

Reuters reported at the weekend that Telecom Egypt’s board had “tentatively” approved plans to buy a licence and would be ready to launch services a year after it had acquired spectrum.

A complicating factor is that Telecom Egypt, which is 80% government-owned, has a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt. The government would not let the company own stakes in two competing businesses and at one stage Telecom Egypt was contemplating buying control of the Vodafone operation as an alternative to selling the stake.

Telecom Egypt then set itself its own deadline of the end of 2015 to sell the Vodafone stake, and appointed advisory banks, but the company has been through several changes of top management and it missed the deadline.

According to Reuters, Telecom Egypt said in a statement on the Egyptian stock exchange website that its board of directors had given its preliminary approval on 28 July and a full study of the 4G licence plan would now be presented to the investment committee.

The news agency reported earlier in July that Telecom Egypt was in talks with banks to secure a loan worth the equivalent of $563 million to acquire a 4G licence.

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