Russia's MegaFon plans massive $1.7b investment in '08

MegaFon, Russia's No.3 mobile phone operator, plans to raise investments by a third to $1.7 billion in 2008, a Reuters report said.

The Reuters report quoted unlisted MegaFon, which ranks behind market leaders MTS and Vimpelcom, as saying that in a presentation the investment will be made in expanding coverage, improving service quality and introducing new value-added services.

The firm estimated 2007 investment at $1.3 billion and said its capital expenditure has been covered from internal cash flow from operations since the second half of 2006, the report said.

It said this year it will focus on improving average revenue per user and decreasing churn and will also explore external growth opportunities, the report said.

It gave no other details.

MegaFon earlier said it would invest up to $250 million in a nationwide 3G mobile network in 2008, which will enable it to offer high-speed mobile broadband services, the report added.

MegaFon services more than 35 million clients in Russia and Tajikistan and has a 20.5% Russian market share, the report further said.