Telecom Egypt (TE) has offered to buy a further 24.4% stake in mobile operator Vodafone Egypt from minority shareholders for EGP5.9 billion (USD1.02 billion), the company said in a statement. If the offer is accepted, TE’s holding in the cellco will rise from 25.5% to 49.9%. UK-based Vodafone Group holds 50.1%. The outstanding 24.4% of shares is currently split between Alkan Group (5%), Banque du Caire (3.4%) and a number of individual shareholders.
TE took its current stake in Vodafone Egypt in December 2003, abandoning plans to launch mobile services of its own and handing back its GSM operating concession. The deal involved a convoluted share swap and cash payment that saw the creation of a new holding company, Wataneya, to hold a portion of Vodafone Egypt’s shares. The Wataneya joint venture agreement expired in October 2005 with neither Vodafone Group nor TE reaching a decision on whether to renew the agreement or not. TE is now looking to dissolve the Wateneya partnership and purchase the remaining 24.4% of Vodafone Egypt not held by either itself or Vodafone Group. Vodafone Group will retain control of the company and says it has no intention of exiting Egypt. ‘It’s a great market,’ a Vodafone Group spokesperson told Dow Jones. ‘We have already got a 50.1% share so whatever happens to the outstanding shares, nothing will affect our rights or control in the company.’