ALGIERS: Algeria is willing to buy Orascom Telecom’s Algerian unit but has not made the Egyptian firm an offer and wants Orascom to clearly state its intention to sell, the Algerian finance minister said.
Algeria’s government is blocking Orascom Telecom’s plans to sell some or all of its assets to South Africa’s MTN and said it wants to buy the Algerian unit itself, but there has been little sign of progress towards a transaction.
"The state is willing to take 100 percent of (Orascom Telecom Algerian unit) Djezzy," Finance Minister Karim Djoudi told reporters. "It is obvious that this requires that OTA (Orascom Telecom Algerie) express clearly its intention to sell Djezzy to the Algerian state."
Asked if Algeria had made an offer to Orascom Telecom, the minister said: "No. When you start talks, each side needs to take an advisor to be able to assess the value of the company."
"After that, there will be a debate to define the value of the transaction," he said on the sidelines of a session of parliament.
Responding to a reporter’s questions about whether there was consensus between the Algerian state and Orascom Telecom about a sale of Djezzy, he said: "No, we have not spoken about consensus."
Orascom Telecom had been in negotiations about selling its assets to MTN, but analysts say that without the Algerian unit — which last year accounted for about one third of Orascom Telecom’s revenues — the deal could be off.
The Algerian government, which earlier hit Orascom Telecom with a back tax demand, says it is exercising its right under a law adopted last year to veto Dejzzy’s sale.