September 29, 2010 / 3:14 PM / in 7 years

Telecom Egypt's Vodafone plans postponed: minister

CAIRO (Reuters) - Landline monopoly Telecom Egypt’s attempts to boost its stake in Vodafone Egypt have been postponed but the firm is studying other ways to get more involved in the mobile market, a minister said on Wednesday

Telecom Egypt, which is owned mostly by the government, is eager to get a bigger piece of the country’s lucrative but competitive mobile industry, which has lured away its fixed-line customers and eaten into its revenues.

The landline operator had been in talks to increase its 45 percent stake in the Vodafone unit, but the negotiations ended in June without a deal.

“This has been postponed for now, and I don’t think that this would be approved soon,” Communications Minister Tarek Kamel said on the sidelines of a conference when asked if Telecom Egypt still planned to increase its stake in the unit.

“The CEO of Vodafone is visiting Egypt in October, but not necessarily to talk about this subject,” he added.

Kamel also said Telecom Egypt was studying the possibility of getting a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence, but could not give a timeline for when a licence might be granted.

“It depends on ... studies at Telecom Egypt and the telecom regulatory authority but, more importantly, also a commercial agreement between whoever wants to run an MVNO and the existing three mobile operators,” he said.

MVNO operators provide cell phone services without their own network, and so must have lease agreements with other operators.

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