VimpelCom to complete Orascom merger before the end of 2010

Reuters, Ahram Online, Thursday 2 Dec 2010

Vimpel Com holds to the Orascom Telecom merger, despite "size and complexity" of the deal, CEO says.

Vimpel Com, seeking a $6.5 billion merger with Orascom Telecom Holding (OT, an affiliate of Naguib Sawiris's Weather Investments), aims to close the deal in 2010 and seeks approval from shareholders in the first half of 2011.

“Given the size and complexity of the deal, we are satisfied with the progress made thus far,” CEO Alexander Izosimov said in a press statement. “We remain committed and continue to move forward,” Bloomberg reported him saying.

The two companies have yet to sign an agreement to create the world’s fifth largest mobile phone company as Orascom tries to resolve a dispute with the Algerian government over its local unit, Djezzy.

The Algerian government, which wants to buy Djezzy, has ordered Orascom to pay more than $800 million in back taxes and banned it from transferring money abroad, penalties that the company has contested.

Algeria had called in November for a bid to appoint an international advisor on its acquisition of Djezzy. All bidders were international investment banks and consultancy companies. This step raised hopes of a settlement favourable to OT.


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