Sawiris' Weather still studying revised VimpelCom bid

Reuters, Ahram Online, Monday 27 Dec 2010

The proposed acquisition of Weather Investment would create the world's 5th largest mobile operator

Naguib Sawiris
Vimpel Com would pay less for Sawiris' Weather

Weather Investments, owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, has revealed that VimpelCom has made a revised bid to acquire most of its telecommunication assets. The offer is under consideration.

VimpelCom in October announced the proposed acquisition of Weather assets, including a controlling stake in Egyptian mobile firm Orascom Telecom (OT) and all of Italian operator Wind.

The merger deal with OT was originally valued at $6.5 billion. Terms of the deal have been affected by Orascom's continued 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 contests.

Given these uncertainties, VimpelCom's Norwegian shareholder Telenor subsequently refused to lend its support to the merger.

"Weather Investments confirms having received the offer from VimpelCom. It is being carefully studied to ensure taking a decision in the best interest of its shareholders," a Weather spokeswoman said by e-mail.

"The decision will be taken very soon and will be communicated to VimpleCom's management."

Earlier this month, a Weather official said the company would complete its review of the VimpelCom offer on Dec. 24.

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