Egyptian mobile firm Orascom Telecom said on Thursday it would enter negotiations to sell its Algerian unit Djezzy to the Algerian government.
Algeria’s trade minister had said on Wednesday it would not allow South Africa’s MTN to buy Djezzy, part of a broader deal that could have made MTN the world’s third-biggest mobile operator if all of Orascom’s assets were included.
"In consequence of the latest declaration by Algerian ministers, we have sent a letter to the Algerian government stating that we will enter into negotiations with the Algerian government regarding the sale of OTA (Orascom Telecom Algeria)," Orascom spokeswoman Manal Abdel Hamid said.
The Algerian trade minister on Wednesday appeared to be rebuffing a request made by South African officials during a visit to Algiers that Algeria allow MTN to buy the Orascom Telecom unit.
The Algerian minister did not explicitly rule out the possibility MTN or another private operator could buy a stake in Djezzy from the state after the government took control from Orascom Telecom.