France Telecom may buy ZTE's stake in Congo China Telecom

France Telecom (NYSE: FTE) entered talks Monday with ZTE Corp. to purchase the Chinese company's 51 percent stake in Congo China Telecom, the fourth-largest mobile operator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bloomberg reports.

The talks signal a continued move by France Telecom from the saturated European market into the opening telco frontiers in Africa and the Middle East. The carrier purchased a 20 percent stake in Iraq's Korek Telecom for $245 million in March, and last year bought 40 percent of Morocco's Meditel for EUR 640 million. France Telecom already operates in Ivory Coast, Kenya and Cameroon.

While the move into an emerging market is appealing in terms of increased penetration rates, Congo presents some unique challenges. The country is recovering from nearly 40 years of conflict, and per capita income is just $300, Bloomberg reports.

The Congo's government said that France Telecom's talks are "very advanced." ZTE would not comment on the situation.

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