Egypt's Orascom delays arbitration on Djezzy

Reuters, Monday 4 Apr 2011

Chairman looks for amicable solution with Algerian telecoms operator

The chairman of Egyptian telecoms firm Orascom Telecom (OT) has delayed seeking international arbitration in a dispute with Algeria's government over the fate of its Djezzy unit, newspaper Al Mal reported.

Naguib Sawiris sees room for an amicable solution to the dispute on completion of the sale of assets of OT's parent company Wind Telecom to Russia's Vimpelcom, the financial daily cited him as saying.

"Naguib Sawiris ... revealed the postponement of any concrete steps with respect to international arbitration against the Algerian government on the dispute over ... Djezzy, based on the desire of the Russian entity," Al Mal said.

OT said in March the Vimpelcom deal would improve its negotiating position with the Algerian government over Djezzy.

Sawiris had previously told Reuters in January he saw international arbitration as the only option with the Algerian government.

Algeria's government blocked OT from selling the unit to South Africa's MTN.

It said it will nationalise Djezzy, hit the unit with hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes and barred it from moving profits abroad.

Consultants hired by Algeria to value Djezzy are scheduled to complete their work by the end of May.

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