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Turk Telekom eyes Europe in $1bn expansion

Sweimeh , May 16, 2009

Turkish fixed-line telephone operator Turk Telekom has its sights set on Eastern Europe as it looks to invest as much as $1 billion in acquisitions, an executive from its majority shareholder said.

Oger Telecom chief business development officer Hakam Kanafani told Reuters Financial Television on Saturday that Turk Telekom was studying possible opportunities coming up in Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Romania and Bulgaria.

'In the CIS nations, Asia and the Middle East in general, this is where the growth will happen on the telecommunication and internet side,' Kanafani said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

'Turk Telekom is looking to expand in regions around Turkey.'

Earlier this year, Turk Telekom's general assembly mandated the management board to make up to $1 billion in acquisitions in 2009.

In March, the company submitted a preliminary, non-binding bid for Macedonian mobile phone operator Cosmofon.

Purchase plans coincide with a sharp slowdown in the Turkish economy due to the global financial crisis which has resulted in companies scaling back their investment plans.

Turkish unemployment jumped to a record high of 16.1 percent in the January-March period due to a sharp contraction in the economy.

'I'm not sure whether it will be spent or not but these are sort of opportunities we're looking at in 2009 and 2010,' Kanafani said. He said investments could happen once the banking system is 'back on its feet.'

'There are six million subscribers of ADSL (internet) and based on that that's where we'll be based geographically.'

Saudi Telecom Company bought a 35 per cent stake in Oger Telecom for about $2.56 billion last year as the former monopoly operator sought to expand into new markets.

Kanafani said Oger was not planning to sell a further stake.

Turk Telekom, controlled by Dubai-based Oger, was listed on the Istanbul bourse in May 2008 when the government reduced its stake to 30 percent by listing a 15 percent holding.-Reuters




Tags: Europe | Expansion | Turk Telekom |

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