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Orascom, Wind working on Vimpelcom tie-paper

The deal will not lead to mergers at the operational level-says official.

February 7, 2011 9:58 by

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom  and Italy’s Wind continue to work on a merger with Russia’s Vimpelcom  despite arbitration over the telecom deal, a senior Orascom manager said in newspaper comments on Sunday.

Norway’s Telenor, which owns nearly 40 percent of Vimpelcom, requested arbitration at the end of January over the Russian group’s planned $6 billion deal to take control of Wind and Orascom from Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris.

“We continue to work with the same commitment and concentration on the merger with Vimpelcom, which we are optimistic about,” Khaled Bichara told Il Sole 24 Ore.

According to company websites, Bichara is a director of Wind and a former chief operating officer, as well as chief executive of Orascom Telecom.

“Naturally, if the arbitration finds something that is not correct we will get involved with the decision taken,” Bichara said in the interview.

The deal will not lead to mergers at the operational level, with each country’s operation remaining independent, he said.

“The benefits of the merger will be the synergies: $2.5 billion savings,” he said without further details.

Orascom/Wind is not worried if Telenor gets sufficient Vimpelcom shareholder to block the deal, he said.

“Even if the deal is not completed, the group can go forward without any problems,” he said, noting how Wind has restructured its debt and does not have maturities in the immediate future.

(Writing by Nigel Tutt; Editing by David Holmes)

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