Algeria’s government cannot give a timetable for resolving a dispute over Orascom Telecom’s Algerian unit Djezzy, a government minister said on Thursday.
Algeria has blocked Orascom’s planned sale of Djezzy to South Africa’s MTN, saying it has a right of first refusal to acquire the business, which leads Algeria’s mobile market by subscribers.
Egypt’s Orascom said last week it would enter talks to sell Djezzy to the Algerian government after weeks of pressure from Algerian officials. Orascom’s Chairman Naguib Sawiris said on Wednesday that MTN had offered to pay $7.8 billion for Djezzy.
"This dossier is being seriously dealt with by experts in the Prime Minister’s office," Algeria’s Minister for Postal Services, Technology, Information and Communication Moussa Benhamadi told official news agency APS.
"We must wait. It’s a question of high-level negotiations," he said. "Every country is sovereign in making the decisions judged necessary for the preservation of its economic interests."
Many countries had taken protectionist measures when circumstances required, APS cited Benhamadi as saying.