Orascom wants clarity on MTN talks 'within days'
Cairo, May 30, 2010
Egyptian telecommunications firm Orascom Telecom (OT) expects to know the outcome of talks to sell some of its African assets to South Africa's MTN within days, it said on Sunday.
'The ongoing negotiations around the acquisition by South Africa's MTN of some of Orascom Telecom's African units will be determined within a week,' the Egyptian daily al-Mal reported on Sunday, quoting Orascom Executive Chairman Naguib Sawiris.
An Orascom official confirmed the remarks, which she said were made in an interview on Monday. Based on Sawiris' comments, the result of the talks should be clear within days, she added.
The news helped cause a surge in Orascom shares, which were trading up 14.6 percent as of 1007 GMT. The Egyptian financial regulator sent Orascom an inquiry seeking clarity on any material news that could be moving its share price.
The Algerian government had said it would block any sale of Orascom's Algerian unit Djezzy to MTN, a key component of a broader deal that would have made MTN the world's third-biggest mobile operator if all Orascom's assets were included.
The Algerian veto left in doubt the fate of some of Orascom's other African assets, which sources said were part of the possible deal.
Orascom is also exploring possible investments in four markets outside of Africa, al-Mal quoted Sawiris as saying in the interview. On Thursday Orascom said it would negotiate the sale of Djezzy to the Algerian government, apparently bowing to weeks of pressure from Algerian authorities.
Abu Dhabi-listed Etisalat, which some speculated would bid for Djezzy, said on Sunday it was not in talks to buy the unit and had not made a bid.-Reuters