Mobinil deal will be sealed shortly: France Telecom VP

Adel Al-Laqani , Saturday 18 Feb 2012

The France Telecom takeover of Mobinil is almost complete, says the French company's number two man to Ahram Online, explaining why the company is offering a lower price than in 2010

France Telecom
Photo: Reuters

France Telecom VP in charge of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Marc Rennard, announces that he expects the Mobinil acquisition to be completed within a matter of a "few weeks."

To appease criticism after the deal was leaked, the executive commented to Ahram Online that the French company will cooperate fully with Egyptian authorities, including the financial regulator (EFSA) and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority NTRA.

As such, France Telecom will have to call for a mandatory tender offer, to buy even small shareholders' shares at the same price, which could cost the company LE5.87 billion.

Rennard claims the new agreement with Mobinil will be beneficial for the minor shareholders, despite a lower price than what was offered by France Telecom in 2010.

Under the terms of the transaction, France Telecom will buy the stake held by OTMT for LE202.5 ($33.55) per share, netting the Egyptian company about LE6 billion (slightly over $1 billion). In 2010, the offer was at LE240 per share.

The VP says the lower price offered is due "to the timing of transaction and the current situation," adding that the 2010 agreement was not final, nor binding. "Mobinil was hit by tough circumstances." 

France Telecom also was hit by the Arab Spring, as they own another operator in Tunisia, Orange.

In all cases, Renaud sees in the present offer as an opportunity for small shareholders, who will be free to sell their shares to FT.

"The agreement with the Egyptian side will be acceptable for all parties," he assured.

Rennard stated that Orascom (who would own 5 per cent) remains as strongly a strategic partner for France Telecom and that it is in their interest to keep the company's board of directors and voting in the general meetings.

"Mobinil's management will remain in Cairo, not France" Rennard added.

According to France Telecom's CEO, no more than five foreign workers will join Mobinil's 5,000 Egyptian staff.

On Tuesday Egypt's Orascom Telecom Media Technology (OTMT) says it would give shareholders much of the $1 billion it stands to gain by selling its stake in Mobinil and keeping part of it for new business opportunities.

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