Court backs Orascom, blocks France Telecom's bid for Mobinil

Amira Salah-Ahmed
4 Min Read

CAIRO: “We intend to continue amicable negotiations with France Telecom aiming at reaching the best possible solution to solve the ongoing dispute between the two companies and pursuing our partnership with France Telecom in Mobinil as an operator, Orascom Executive Chairman Naguib Sawiris said in a statement to Daily News Egypt.

After a court ruling backed OT’s appeal against the market regulator’s decision to approve FT’s bid to take control of Mobinil, Sawiris said the company will “continue to push Mobinil forward to continue its leadership position in the Egyptian market.

OT’s Director of Public Relations Manal Abdel-Hamid told Daily News Egypt that Sawiris is “extremely happy with the latest ruling, which halts FT’s tender offer.

The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) explained in a statement that the ruling halts the tender offer by FT’s subsidiary Orange Participations to buy all outstanding shares of the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil) at LE 245 ($44.63).

The offer began on Dec. 15, reported Reuters.

“The court rules … to stop the implementation of the authority’s decision … to approve the obligatory bid offered by Orange Participations company to buy shares of Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil) at LE 245, Judge Hamdy Yassin told the court, according to Reuters.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Sawiris said: “We are in our country, staying in it. We are not leaving.

The battle over Mobinil between FT and OT began last year when the firms disagreed over the implementation of a deal they signed in August 2001 as partners in the holding company. OT took the case to the International Court of Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva in 2007.

In April, the arbitration court ruled that FT should buy OT’s stake in the holding company at a price equivalent to LE 273.26 ($50.16) a share by April 10. A new row arose as OT and Egypt’s regulator said FT must bid for the rest of Mobinil’s shares.

Since then, FT’s several bids were rejected because their offered share price was deemed too low, but on Dec. 10 the EFSA’s arbitration committee approved FT’s fourth bid valued at LE 245 a share.

OT opposed the regulator’s decision and asked the regulator’s arbitration committee to reverse it and soon after, Prime Capital said outstanding shares in Mobinil are worth between LE 283 and LE 337 pounds each.

There was no immediate comment from France Telecom.

“The ruling proves that the decision of the (regulatory) authority was incorrect. Our position is correct. The next step is from the regulator, not from us. We had no desire to sell in the first place, Reuters reported Sawiris as saying.

“They will put an injunction on the FT deal right now and then will go into lengthy legal proceedings. And basically we will go back to where we were several months ago, Mike Millar, regional director of research of Naeem Holding, told Reuters.

He added that France Telecom may make another offer. -Additional reporting by Reuters.

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