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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Bidders line up for Greek 3G licences
View of Athens
Greece: Good potential for operators, analysts say
The deadline has passed for applications to take part in Greece's auction of third-generation (3G) mobile phone licences.

Plans call for the sale of four licences on 11 July, with a list of qualified bidders to be published the day before.

The auction comes at a difficult time for European wireless operators, most of which are battling high debts, slower growth and investor concern over the heavy costs and uncertain financial prospects of 3G.

Analysts said the Greek mobiles market has good potential for operators but the licence auction is not expected to be a big moneyspinner for the government.

Greece hopes to start the auction at 50bn drachmas ($124m; 88m) a licence and will sell only three licences if a fourth bidder does not emerge.

Analysts had previously said that, given current market conditions, the licences might fetch as little as 25bn drachmas each.

Vodafone, Telecom Italia to bid?

Bidders for the new licences are expected to include Greece's three existing mobile operators - Vodafone subsidiary Panafon, CosmOTE - a venture of Greece's OTE Telecoms and Norway's Telenor - and Telecom Italia's Stet Hellas.

Other potential bidders include France Telecom's Orange or Wind, France Telecom's Italian joint venture with power utility Enel.

DEH Telecoms, the recently-formed telecoms arm of Greece's Public Power Corporation, is also reported to be interested.

Telecoms regulator EETT, which is conducting the auction, also said it aimed to divide up and sell remaining second-generation (2G) spectrum at the same time.

Operators will be able to bid for extra spectrum to upgrade existing networks while a fourth 2G licence will also be awarded.

Four 3G licences and all the remaining 2G spectrum might generate about 250bn drachmas for the government, analysts said.

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See also:

04 May 01 | Business
Greece lines up 3G licence sale
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Greece
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