Orascom Telecom says shareholders approve Mobinil deal

Ahram Online, Friday 2 Mar 2012

An extraordinary General Assembly of OTMT's shareholders approved the sale of their share in Mobinil, but the company's statement overlooked financial watchdog's regulatory requests

News about the deal drove share prices of Mobinil and OTMT upwards (Photo: Reuters)

On Thursday the shareholders of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) approved the sale of their share in mobile carrier Mobinil to France Telecom (FT), according to a statement by OTMT. The statement, however, overlooked commenting on earlier requests made by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA), specifically failing to show that the sale will take place at a fair price.

The deal entails that OTMT will retains five percent of the capital of ECMS-Mobinil, selling the rest to FT at LE202.5 per share, to be paid in Egyptian pounds or in Euro. OTMT will keep its voting power as a partner at 30 percent. Some 56.8 percent of OTMT's shareholders attended the Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting (EGM) on Thursday, where they also approved delegating the company's Executive Chairman and Managing Director to undertake all the necessary actions required for the deal.

The statement did not include address issues requested by EFSA such as an explanation by the management of its shareholders the reasons for approving the offer under the financial and technical conditions or a detailed explanation of the reasons behind OTMT's refusal to sell its stake at LE245 a share as per the previous tender offer submitted by France Telecom on 10 December 2009.

Among EFSA's requests was that OTMT should clarify the impact of selling these shares on the company's ability to generate revenues in the future. EFSA requested the appointment of an independent auditor to review the deal. Yet the meeting minutes are not available on the web sites of the stock exchange or the company; and company executives were not available for comment.

News about the deal had propelled OTMT and Mobinil shares in the stock market upwards. Mobinil and OTMT closed Thursday's trading at LE178.85 and LE1.6, respectively. "Investors are encouraged to carefully evaluate any investment decision in OTMT and/or ECMS-Mobinil,” the statement read.In mif-February OTMT had said that it would give its shareholders much of the $1 billion it stands to gain by selling its stake in Mobinil and keep part of it for new business opportunities.

OTMT was formed from assets still controlled by the Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris after he sold his stake in Orascom Telecom last year. It has investments in Egypt, North Korea, Pakistan, Lebanon and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, in mobile companies, media and technology and cable businesses. Mobinil posted net losses of LE177 million ($29.32 million) for the fourth quarter of 2011, hit by spiralling operating costs. It is the second largest mobile carrier in Egypt by market share, with a total of 32.914 million at the end of 2011.

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