Sawiris skeptical on Orascom/Vimpelcom deal: paper

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Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris told a Norwegian newspaper that the chances of completing a $6.6 billion merger between his company Orascom and Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom were at best 50 percent.

Sawiris was quoted by Dagens Naerinsliv as saying that Norway’s Telenor — which owns nearly 40 percent of Vimpelcom — was "not motivated" to see out the merger, which faces hurdles in Algeria as well as regulatory issues in other countries.

"Now, I doubt anything will come from the merger. Telenor is not motivated, as I see it. It’s 50-50 at best that anything will come of it," Sawiris was quoted as saying.

Algeria is threatening to nationalize Orascom’s local unit, and Orascom has assets in Bangladesh and Pakistan where Telenor also has mobile operations.

Telenor was not immediately available for comment on the report.

Telenor has repeatedly aired doubts over the Vimpelcom-Orascom deal. Late last month it asked for clarification of the merger parameters before Vimpelcom’s board makes a final decision on the deal.


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