Telecom Egypt will only consider selling its 45 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt if it is able to reach “critical mass” in the mobile market, as the state-owned operator looks to grow its share in the segment to 15 per cent by 2022.
In comments cited by Bloomberg, Telecom Egypt’s senior investor relations director, Sarah Shabayek, said the company currently sees no conflict of interest in keeping hold of the Vodafone stake, which is effectively now its rival in the mobile market.
Telecom Egypt, 80 per cent state owned and the country’s largest fixed provider, launched 4G services in September 2017 following a fraught 4G auction process, therefore putting it in competition with Orange Egypt, Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone.
Shabayek said selling its 45 per cent stake in Vodafone as a result of its entrance into mobile could not be made “blindly”, despite suggestions from market watchers that the company could use proceeds from a possible sale to extend its own network.
“Vodafone Egypt is a very good investment,” Shabayek reportedly said. “A sale would only be considered if we reach critical mass in the mobile market to the extent that we start cannibalising on such investment.”
Shabayek did not say how much of a presence Telecom Egypt would have to attain before it would consider a sale of its Vodafone stake. She did, however, reveal the company aims to increase its share of the market from a current level of 2 per cent to 15 per cent in four years, as well as cover 50 per cent of data traffic for its clients this year.
She also said the company was in talks with banks about securing a loan for around EGP$13 billion ($735 million) to give it more flexibility in its operations
GSMA Intelligence estimates for Q1 2018 place Vodafone Egypt as the country’s largest mobile operator with more than 45 million connections, ahead of Orange with more than 34 million connections, Etisalat’s 23 million and Telecom Egypt’s 2.4 million.