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Mon 13 Aug 2007 12:46 AM

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Kharafi raises MTC stake

Kuwaiti group raises stake and shifts shares in telecom operator to another unit.

Kuwait's Kharafi Group has raised its stake in Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC) slightly and shifted its shares in the telecom operator to another unit, bourse data showed on Sunday.

Al-Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate Co., which belongs to the family-owned Kharafi conglomerate, now owned 8.97 % of MTC, Kuwait's largest company, the exchange said on its Web site.

The Web site had previously listed Kuwait British Readymix, which also belongs to the Kharafi Group, as an MTC shareholder. British Readymix had an 8.91 % stake more than a week ago, according to the Web site.

UNIEXPO, a public relations firm that acts on behalf of the Kharafi Group, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

MTC's stock has doubled in value this year, partly on speculation a foreign investor was looking to buy into the company, the second largest Arab telecom operator by market value.

Kharafi group has been at the centre of speculation as it is MTC's second largest shareholder through Al-Khair, according to the bourse Web site. The biggest shareholder is the Kuwaiti government whose stake was unchanged at 24.6 %.

The Kharafi Group said in June any sale of its stake in MTC would be made in concert with other shareholder

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