Algeria ‘ready to buy Orascom unit’
Algiers, May 4, 2010
Algeria's government is prepared to buy Orascom Telecom's Algerian unit, Algerian state radio quoted Telecommunications Minister Hamid Bessalah as saying.
The radio station said that when asked if the Algerian state was ready to buy the unit, the minister answered: 'Of course.'
There were no details about what size stake the government might take, or on what terms.
Egypt's Orascom Telecom has confirmed it is in talks to sell some or all of its assets to South Africa's MTN, a deal worth up to $9 billion which could turn MTN into the world's third-biggest mobile phone service provider.
Algeria's government has blocked the sale of the Algerian unit to MTN, saying it is exercising its right under a law adopted last year to have first refusal on buying a controlling stake in the subsidiary.
The unit is Orascom Telecom's most attractive asset and last year accounted for almost 37 per cent of the firm's revenue, so the Algerian government's stance could jeopardise the broader deal between Orascom and MTN. – Reuters