UkrTelekom, Ukraine's national phone company, said it will invest $700 mln, seeking to win a third of the country’s cell phone market by 2010, the company's deputy chief executive Igor Syrotenko said, Ukrainian journal reported.

The expansion, through development of state-of-the-art 3G cell phone network, is supposed to make UkrTelekom more attractive among investors when the government sells the company next year.

Transport and Communications Minister Victor Bondar said the government prepares to sell the company at an auction and suggested the privatization may value UkrTelekom at $4 bln.

"UkrTelekom is a serious rival for any mobile operator today," Bondar said, adding that potential buyers have already indicated their interest. These are a couple of European telecommunication investors, Russian companies and a domestic investor.”

The investment in 3G network, which provides operation of high quality multimedia equipment, would generate an annual net profits of be $687 mln on sales of $1.4 bln within the next five years, Syrotenko said.

UkrTelekom, which has 9.7 mln fixed line clients, provides local, long-distance and international telephone services across Ukraine.

The government gave it a 3G cellular operating license in December 2005, trying to attract foreign investors.

UkrTelekom said it plans to invest $300 mln in developing its cellular network to get at least 2 mln subscribes by 2008.


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