News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Friday, 21 May 2010

Vodafone to quit Egypt?

This blog is (usually) written on a Sceptred Isle whose citizens (subjects) are currently wondering what life is going to be like under a newly cobbled-together coalition government. This is rather a novel state of affairs because the our electoral system is carefully rigged designed to crown a decisive winner and deliver the 'strong government' we Brits are supposed to favour. Usually this works out fine, with a healthy majority and almost unchecked power conferred upon the winners. There's never even been the need for those 'winners' to command a majority share of the votes cast, much less the support of a majority of those eligible to vote.

During its election campaign, the senior partner in the new government issued dire warnings about the terrible consequences should the voters be unwise enough to elect a hung parliament. The markets, we were warned, would respond unfavourably, leaving our fragile economic recovery exposed to the fall out of their nervousness.

Perhaps this was not too far wide of the mark. The markets continue to be volatile in the early days of this new administration, with Nick Fletcher of the Guardian reporting another bumpy week of trading.

Bucking the current downward trend, however, writes Fletcher, is mobile behemoth Vodafone.

"The mobile phone group has had a busy week", observes Fletcher, winning an Indian 3G licence... and reporting a doubling of annual profits. Today, Fletcher reports, its shares have jumped 2p to 131.45p, making it the biggest riser in a falling FTSE, following reports it plans to sell its 55% stake in its Egyptian business.

One such report, from TeleGeography, suggests that the buyer of Vodafone's controlling stake in the Egyptian MNO may be incumbent wireline operator Telecom Egypt, already the owner of the other 45% of the business.

The article also suggests that if no agreement can be reached between Vodafone and Telecom Egypt, the fixed-line operator may seek another route into the domestic mobile sector, perhaps trying to secure its own wireless licence, should the government, as rumoured, offer a fourth mobile concession in the future.

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