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VIENNA, Aug 1 (Reuters) - A billion-euro ($1.34 billion) rights issue by Telekom Austria is likely to happen soon after the company gains approval from its shareholders later this month, Telekom Austria's chairman said.
Telekom Austria's new majority owner, Carlos Slim's America Movil, is impatient to get going on an expansion programme in central and eastern Europe (CEE) designed to turn it into a regional powerhouse, mainly through acquisitions.
Asked by journalists how soon the capital increase would happen, Rudolf Kemler answered: "It will depend heavily on the market, how the markets develop. Basically, I expect that it should happen rather soon."
He added that Telekom Austria, which now has operations in seven CEE countries plus Austria, could double in size in the next five to seven years.
"If the markets change in the way we expect them to today, I can absolutely imagine that," Kemler said late on Thursday in remarks embargoed for release on Friday.
America Movil owns 51 percent of Telekom Austria following a mandatory public offer that ended earlier this month. It represented Slim's first successful venture into operating in Europe after a failed takeover attempt of Dutch KPN. (Reporting by Angelika Gruber; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Michael Shields)