Orascom lifts HTIL stake; sets sights on Europe

18 Apr 2006

Orascom Telecom is to increase its stake in Hutchison Telecom International by 3.7%, lifting its overall ownership to 23%. ‘It’ll take a couple of weeks because we’ll have to get approvals from countries in which they are operating,’ Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris commented. Orascom operates GSM networks in Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and is traded on the Egyptian bourse and on the London Stock Exchange. The firm’s subscribers exceeded 30 million by the end of 2005, and Sawiris is keen for the company to expand its reach. ‘We think things will pop up in the coming two years … we’re looking at increasing our footprint in Europe because just being in Italy alone [via Wind] is very lonely,’ he said, before adding, ‘There are single operators in Austria, there’s one in France, there’s one in Holland, so there are opportunities still open. If you look at what happened in America, all the big guys came together and there’s half the number of operators you used to have a number of years ago… It’s very clear that size matters.’