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Egyptian billionaire in US deal talks

Sharm El Sheikh, May 20, 2008

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is in talks with three US firms over the sale of 10 per cent of Italian holding company Weather Investments and expects a deal within weeks.

'It should be done in a couple of weeks,' Sawiris said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. He said the talks were with three US private equity companies.

Sawiris had said on Sunday he was looking to sell 10 per cent of Weather to repay debt to Italian utility company Enel SpA, which sold Italian mobile operator Wind to Sawiris in a 2006 deal that was worth more than 12 billion euros ($18.6 billion) including debt.

At the time, the deal was one of Europe's biggest leveraged buyouts. Sawiris has to repay Enel 1 billion euros by June 13, the Italian paper Il Sole 24 Ore has reported.

Sawiris did not say how much he hoped to raise in the Weather sale.  Rome prosecutors are investigating 11 people for corruption in the sale of Wind, Italy's third largest telecom company, including the chief executive of Enel, judicial sources said earlier this year.

Sawiris, also chairman of regional mobile operator Orascom Telecom, was under investigation along with Alessandro Benedetti, Sawiris's former adviser on the purchase, the sources had said.-Reuters




Tags: deal | Talks | Weather | Sawiris |

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