Telecom Egypt profit up 65%

Egypt's fixed-line telephone monopoly Telecom Egypt said its second-quarter net profit jumped 65%, beating analysts' forecasts. The company said it made 681.2 million Egyptian pounds ($127.8 million) in the three months to the end of June. Total fixed-line subscribers reached 11.3 million by the end of June, up 3% from last year.

Analysts had forecast the company's second-quarter net profit between 560 million pounds and 650 million pounds. The company said sales revenue from the second quarter was 2.4 billion pounds, up 1% from the first quarter. It did not give a comparison for the same period a year ago.

The company has said its full-year profit will grow at a faster pace than last year's 4.4%, driven by growth in Internet and data services and sales of services to other operators.

Revenue in 2008 will likely grow by 2 to 3%, down from 5% in 2007, the company has said. Chief executive Akil Beshir told Reuters in March the company was in talks to buy an existing telecom operator in the Middle East, Africa, or Eastern Europe to capture growth outside its home market.

Egypt plans to sell a second fixed-line licence in September, which would end Telecom Egypt's monopoly.

Telecom Egypt jointly owns Algerian fixed-line operator Lacom, the country's first private fixed-line provider. Telecom Egypt has said it has resolved differences with Algeria's government, which it had accused of preferential treatment toward the state-owned operator, and may invest more in Algeria.

Telecom Egypt said in May it was negotiating with mobile operators and Egypt's regulator to reduce fees for calls from fixed to mobile lines, which it said would boost usage. It has said it hoped to sign an agreement by the end of September.


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