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Noortel to bid for Egypt licence.

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Kuwaiti investment firm Noor Financial Company said it would bid for Egypt's second fixed-line telephone licence and had dropped plans to compete for a stake in Egyptian lender Banque du Caire. "We are applying for it," Noor Financial managing director Naser Al-Marri said of the licence Egypt plans to auction on June 19.

Noor unit Noortel will bid, Al-Marri said yesterday. Six other companies have already expressed interest, including Etisalat, France Telecom, Orascom Telecom, Egypt's Alkan and Giza Systems, and Saudi Arabia's Atheeb group.

Al-Marri declined to say whether Noor would team up with France Telecom, with which it has a partnership to investment in the telecoms industry in the Middle East. He said a group of banks and investment firms from Saudi Arabia were in talks to acquire a ten per cent stake in Noortel, while France Telecom is also interested in buying into the firm, though no decision had yet been made.

"There is an interest, but we don't know yet," Al-Marri said of France Telecom. Noor Financial, the investment arm of Kuwaiti conglomerate National Industries Holding Group, wants to raise 53.9 million Kuwaiti dinars ($200 million) by selling a 49 per cent stake in its telecom unit.

The deal will close around June 5, the company said. Noor and some partners will keep the remaining 51 per cent in the firm, which operates according to Islamic rules and invests in the telecoms industry in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, according to its web site.

Meanwhile, Al-Marri ruled out a bid for the 67 per cent stake being sold in Banque du Caire. "We are out," he said. "We couldn't reach any agreement with the banks."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 14, 2008
Words:298
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