Sawiris to step down as Orascom Telecom chairman

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CAIRO: Egyptian mobile operator Orascom Telecom’s CEO will take over from Naguib Sawiris as executive chairman, the firm said on Monday, as the billionaire moves to get more involved in his country’s changing politics.

Ahmed Abou Doma, the former head of Orascom’s Bangladeshi business, will replace Khaled Bichara as chief executive officer, the firm said.

Egypt toppled its president in a popular uprising in February and the telecoms tycoon has been a vocal supporter of the country’s transition to democracy.

He also saw the completion of a more than $6 billion deal with Russian operator Vimpelcom last month for his holding company Wind Telecom, including a majority stake in Orascom and all of Italy’s Wind.

The cash-and-shares deal gave Sawiris 30.6 percent of Vimpelcom.

"Personally, I have decided to be more focused on social and political work, aiming to play a role in the transformation of post-revolution Egypt into a civil democracy," Sawiris said in a statement.

"Yet I will continue to support the business as one of the largest shareholders at the Vimpelcom level."

Vimpelcom said on Monday it would also replace its chief executive, a move seen as attempting to smooth over friction caused by the Sawiris deal between two of the company’s major shareholders.

Bichara, who took part in anti-government demonstrations during Egypt’s uprising, will take over from Sawiris as Orascom’s executive chairman. He was appointed CEO in November 2009, also replacing Sawiris at that time.

Bichara’s replacement Abou Doma has also worked as the head of marketing at Orascom’s Egyptian mobile venture Mobinil, the firm said.

Banglalink, the subsidiary Abou Doma ran, is Orascom’s third-biggest unit by revenue. It brought in about $457 million last year, up from about $351 million in 2009, and has over 19 million mobile subscribers.

Orascom Telecom fully or partly owns operators in Algeria, Pakistan, North Korea and a variety of sub-Saharan African countries as well as Mobinil, which it runs jointly with France Telecom.


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