TE’s submission of an offer will depend on the outcome of a study which it is carrying out jointly with Credit Suisse First Boston, the US’ Booz Allen & Hamilton and an international mobile phone operator.

‘We are interested in the third licence because it is an opportunity for us to have our own mobile network and our own company that we have a majority stake in,’ TE chairman Akil Beshir told MEED in an interview on 28 March in Cairo. At present, TE holds a minority 25.5 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt, with Vodafone of the UK holding the remainder. Should TE bid and win the third licence, under NTRA regulations it will be required to give up its Vodafone Egypt stake as licence-holders may not have a share in other mobile services companies.

‘Strategically the third licence is a good option for us,’ said Beshir. ‘However, we have to really consider this in comparison with what we have with Vodafone.’

Prospective bidders for the third licence include a number of regional telcos such as MTC and Wataniya Telecom, both of Kuwait, Saudi Telecom, Qatar Telecom (Q-Tel) and the UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat).