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Orascom TMT in talks with France Telecom over Mobinil

Orascom TMT in talks with France Telecom over Mobinil

Orascom Telecom Media and Technology said on Sunday it was in talks with France Telecom over a potential change in ownership structure at Egyptian joint venture Mobinil, hours after shares in both Orascom and Mobinil were suspended.

February 13, 2012 2:11 by

Orascom said a decision was expected to come after a Feb. 13 meeting between the companies, while the Egyptian stock exchange said the shares would stay suspended pending a joint statement with France Telecom on Mobinil’s fate.

France Telecom is the biggest shareholder in Mobinil and the second-biggest is the family of Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, who has a “put” option to sell his holding in Mobinil to the French company.

For France Telecom, the Egyptian operator is part of its effort to expand its footprint in high-growth emerging markets to offset tough competition in its home market.

Sawiris sold most of his telecom assets last year to Russia’s Vimpelcom in a $6 billion deal, but his Mobinil stake was not included.

France Telecom already owns 71.25 percent of Mobinil Telecommunications SAE, which has a 51 percent stake in listed entity Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS).

Sawiris’ “put” option, which predates Egypt’s popular uprising that sent the economy — and ECMS’s — shares reeling, allowed him to sell his ECMS stake to France Telecom for between 221.7 pounds and 248.5 pounds per share, depending on the timing.

ECMS shares have rallied in recent weeks on speculation about possible changes in the relationship between the Sawiris and France Telecom, but at 136.37 they were still far below the put price. (Writing by Amran Abocar; Additional reporting by Christian Plumb and Leila Abboud in Paris; Editing by Dinesh Nair and Maureen Bavdek) *image from

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