ALGIERS:Algeria’s government is prepared to buy 100 percent of Orascom Telecom’s Algerian unit, the official news agency quoted Finance Minister Karim Djoudi as saying on Thursday.
Asked in parliament about plans by Orascom Telecom to sell the unit, "the minister recalled that the transaction must conform to national laws, saying that Algeria is ready to buy 100 percent of the operator," the APS news agency reported.
Egypt’s Orascom Telecom is in negotiations to sell some or all of its assets to South African firm MTN, a deal which could make MTN the world’s third largest mobile phone operator if all Orascom’s assets were included.
But Algeria is blocking the sale of the Algerian unit, which trades under the name Djezzy, citing a law which it says gives it the right of first refusal on a 51 percent stake in the unit if it comes up for sale.
Analysts say if Djezzy — which last year accounted for more than a third of Orascom Telecom’s revenues — is not part of the deal, MTN may decide to walk away.