Weather makes play for Wind

21 Mar 2005

A consortium headed by the CEO of Orascom Telecom, Naguib Sawiris, and comprising private equity investor Wilbur Ross and French venture capitalist Phillipe Nguyen, is reported to be close to tabling a EUR12.5 billion bid for the Italian telecoms group Wind. Known as ‘Weather’, the consortium is likely to go head-to-head with Blackstone, a US private equity firm also known to be interested in acquiring the telco. The two bidders are also competing against a third possibility: that Enel, the Italian utility which owns Wind, may seek to float the business. Some observers believe that Paulo Scaroni, the Enel chief executive, favours this approach.

Mr Sawiris is the oldest of three brothers who run family companies which make up about 40% of the value of the Egyptian stock exchange. He is chief executive of Orascom Telecom, which operates in nine countries in the Middle East and Africa while other members of his family control Orascom Construction Industries and Orascom Hotels and Development. Forbes recently estimated the family’s wealth at EUR3.9 billion.