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Ericsson repeats 2007 market growth outlook

(Adds details, Vodafone deal, updates shares)

STOCKHOLM, April 11 (Reuters) - Top mobile phone networks maker Ericsson ERICb.ST repeated its 2007 market growth outlook for systems for the key GSM/WCDMA mobile phone technologies and said it continued to take market share from rivals.

“We said after the fourth quarter, growth in mobile infrastructure in 2006 in U.S. dollar terms was 5 percent. We

(said we) expected 2007 to show a similar growth,” Ericsson Chief Executive Carl-Henric Svanberg told a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Svanberg said he was “confident” Ericsson would continue to gain market share in both the infrastructure and services areas.

In February, the world’s largest supplier of equipment for mobile phone networks cut its 2007 market growth forecast to 5 percent from its previous estimate of moderate growth, which implied 5 to 9 percent expansion, citing rivals’ weak sales.

Ericsson's top rival, Nokia Siemens Networks NOK1V.HESIEGn.DE, earlier this month trimmed its outlook for the infrastructure market saying it only saw very slight growth in euro terms against a previous forecast of slight growth.

In the light of Nokia Siemens’ outlook for the market “it is in some way positive that Ericsson, instead, repeats the view of the market they had earlier,” said Hakan Wranne, analyst at Swedbank.

Ericsson has said it can benefit as rivals remain busy managing complicated mergers, including Nokia's combination of its networks unit with that of Siemens and the formation of Alcatel-Lucent ALU.PA.

Svanberg said Ericsson also still saw the services market showing “good growth or in the range of 10 percent” this year.

By 1235 GMT Ericsson's stock was up 0.75 percent at 26.80 crowns compared with a rise of 0.5 percent in Stockholm's blue-chip OMXS30 index .OMXS30.

While Svanberg stuck to the firm's market outlook, he said that he expected more growth in contracts such as Ericsson inked earlier this week with Vodafone VOD.L.

The deal will see Ericsson manage the supply and distribution of spare parts for Vodafone’s mobile networks across several European countries, including Germany, Spain and Portugal.

“This is a very exciting contract,” Svanberg said. “I am sure that we are going to see more contracts of this type.”

Ericsson did not give a value for the Vodafone deal.

Svanberg said he had read media reports that the deal was worth around 4 billion crowns, adding that the contract was “in that size-bracket”.

On China’s delayed third generation mobile roll-out -- worth a potential $10 billion in network orders -- Svanberg said he expected 3G licences to be handed “at the earliest at the end of this year or in 2008.”

(Additional reporting by Sven Nordenstam)

((Reporting by Simon Johnson, Helena Soderpalm, Editing by David Cowell and David Holmes; Stockholm Newsroom, tel: +46-8-700 1017, e-mail: stockholm.newsroom@reuters.com)) Keywords: ERICSSON MARKET/

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