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Sun 10 Feb 2008 02:00 AM

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Saudi Telecom inks $2.56bn Oger deal

Operator signs final agreement for 35% stake as it expands its investments internationally.

Saudi Telecom, the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, said on Saturday it had finalised a 9.6 billion riyal deal ($2.56 billion) to buy 35% of Oger Telecom.

"Saudi telecom has today signed a final agreement with Oger Telecom ... it is part of Saudi telecom's efforts to expand its investments overseas," the company said in a statement carried by the state news agency.

Gulf Arab telecom operators are expanding out of their home markets, where most have been riding a wave of economic growth spurred by a five-fold increase in oil prices since 2002.

Saudi Telecom lagged its regional rivals, making its first foreign acquisition only last year, when it bought 25% of Malaysia's Maxis in a $3 billion deal that gave it access to India and Indonesia, the world's second and fourth most populous countries.

Oger Telecom operates in Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan, providing fixed-line, mobile and Internet services. Its parent, Saudi Oger, is a construction company controlled by the family of late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri. (Reuters)

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