CAIRO: Egypt’s stock exchange has suspended trading in mobile operator Mobinil and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) on the request of the country’s regulator, the exchange said on Thursday without providing further details.
The regulator is weighing up whether to approve France Telecom’s plan to purchase most of OTMT’s stake in Mobinil for €1.5 billion ($2 billion) and there have been media reports saying it was poised to reject the deal, or was delaying it until the French firm responded to a request for information.
Under the terms of the plan, France Telecom will buy most of the Mobinil stake held by OTMT, holding company of entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris.
The chairman of financial market regulator EFSA, Ashraf El-Sharqawy, had said the watchdog would give its response this week.
In a brief telephone interview with Reuters, Sharqawy denied media reports that the regulator had made remarks either rejecting the offer or delaying a decision for 48 hours pending France Telecom’s response.
“EFSA has not and will not comment on the offer. When there is a decision, it will be announced to everyone at the same time,” he added, without giving details of when the decision would be made.
France Telecom is already the biggest shareholder in Mobinil and Egypt is a key part of its efforts to expand in high-growth emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East.
The deal, which was subject to a preliminary agreement struck in February, recasts the terms of its relationship with Sawiris, who had a put option to sell out completely to France Telecom starting in September 2012.
France Telecom would end up owning 95 percent of Egypt’s largest mobile operator if all the minority shareholders accept, while Sawiris would keep 5 percent.
The Egyptian side will retain six of 13 seats on the board and the same voting rights as before.
The new accord will also put into place a new system of call and put options through 2017 to set the terms under which Sawiris’ OTMT can exit in the coming years.