Orascom Telecom seeks arbitration on Algeria unit

Reuters, Tuesday 28 Dec 2010

The dispute over Djezzy with the Algerian government is expected to come before international arbitrators


Orascom Telecom (OT) will seek international arbitration in a dispute with Algeria's government over the Egyptian company's unit Djezzy, OT's chairman was quoted as saying on CNBC Arabia TV's website.

A planned $6.6 billion sale of OT assets to Russia's VimpelCom has been complicated by the spat with Algiers over the future of Djezzy, OT's biggest revenue generator.

OT reluctantly agreed to talks on the nationalization of Djezzy after Algeria hit the unit with back-taxes, stopped it moving money abroad and blocked a sale to South Africa's MTN.

"We will resort to international arbitration to resolve the problem of the Djezzy unit and will start the procedures soon," CNBC Arabia quoted Naguib Sawiris on Tuesday as saying.

An OT official declined to comment on the CNBC report.

Its chief executive, Khaled Bichara, said last month OT would only seek international arbitration as a last resort.

Algeria's government has said it will pay a market price for Djezzy but has not said exactly when an offer would be made.

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