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France Telecom makes new bid for Orascom's shares in Mobinil

US$45.5 is the price now on offer from France Telecom for a single share in Mobinil, the Egyptian operator owned jointly by France Telecom and Orascom Telecom. Mobinil’s future has recently been the subject of several complex legal and financial developments...

Reuters has reported that France Telecom is offering US$45.5 for each of the shares it does not own in the Egyptian operator Mobinil. The value of the shares in question is US$2.2 billion.

France Telecom’s dispute with Orascom, the other main share-holder with 51% of the share-holding, has been reported regularly on this site: the Egyptian regulator has now authorised France Telecom to proceed with its offer, after turning it down three times. Selling of the shares began on 15 December and will end on 14 January.

The regulator is keen to see the dispute between the two companies resolved - it is understood that the regulator is supportive of the idea that France Telecom will obtain a new Egyptian partner if Orascom disposes of its stake. In its own words the Communications Ministry, "continues to hope...that the two parties in the commercial dispute reach a conciliatory solution that allows them to continue in their successful partnership."

In fact, Orascom is still unhappy, as it would lose the stake it owns in its own country if the sell-off takes place, this despite the US$1.6 billion it would acquire. Orascom has now written to the local stock exchange protesting at the decision and stating the company’s intention to launch a counter-strategy. This may be an attempt by Orascom to go to arbitration.

One factor which does not put Orascom in a favourable position is its tax debt to financial authorities in Algeria, where it owes approximately US$600 million in taxes and financial penalties. It plans to challenge this situation as well.

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