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Mon 21 May 2007 02:25 PM

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Etisalat Egypt plans $1.4bn investment

The Emirates' telco is set to spend the money on expanding the network over the next three years.

The Egyptian unit of Emirates Telecommunications Corp. said on Monday it planned to invest up to 8 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.41 billion) over the next three years building infrastructure.

Etisalat Egypt, which

started operations on May 1

, also plans to sell shares in an initial public offering in 2009, Chief Executive Saleh al-Abdouly told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

Etisalat Egypt would make the investments in order to reach a target of 10 million subscribers in the most-populous Arab country by 2010, he said. The company had secured 300,000 subscribers this month, Etisalat's chairman said this week.

In February, Etisalat said it would borrow 10 billion pounds from local and international banks to finance expansion of the Egypt operation, which now offers services to 14 cities in Egypt.

The company has already invested 2 billion pounds in building base stations and core networks, Abdouly said.

"We are planning to spend 6-8 billion Egyptian pounds over the next three years," he said, adding that the aim would be to cover 80 percent of the country by 2008 and 90 percent by 2009.

Etisalat, the third-largest Arab telecom firm by market value, holds a 66 percent stake in Etisalat Egypt, which it bought with other shareholders last year for $2.9 billion.

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