Orascom Telecom would prefer to stay in Algeria, but has been obliged to enter talks to sell its unit Djezzy to the government, Executive Chairman Naguib Sawiris said on Monday.
"We did not want to leave. Until this moment, we are negotiating with the Algerian government. We may not reach an agreement, and the choice may be that we stay," he told Al Arabiya satellite television.
Orascom will continue to focus on big markets for future investments, Sawiris added.
Meanwhile, OT said it had no new details to announce on talks over a sale of assets to MTN, after Egypt’s bourse asked it for clarity following a jump in its shares.
"There are talks with the South African company MTN, and this is what we have divulged before," Orascom said in a statement on Monday published by the bourse. It added it did not want to disclose more details to avoid encouraging competing offers.
The bourse had requested clarity on any material news that might have moved Orascom’s share price on Sunday, which surged 12 percent.
Traders cited talk that a deal to sell some of Orascom’s African assets to MTN would be announced soon.
MTN said on April 28 it was in talks to acquire all or some of Orascom’s assets including Djezzy. The Algerian government stymied any deal from going ahead when it claimed it had the right to bid on Djezzy first.
Analysts said Djezzy was the deal’s key component, and the Algerian veto cast doubt on the chance of a larger sale.