Egypt’s Orascom Telecom wants to take control of Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (HTIL), according to a Reuters interview with Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Orascom took a 19.3% stake in HTIL for USD1.3 billion in December 2005. HTIL holds stakes in fixed line operations in Hong Kong and mobile businesses in India, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Israel, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam. The combined footprint of Orascom and HTIL operations includes important adjoining markets such as Orascom’s operations in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and HTIL’s businesses in India and Sri Lanka. On a combined basis, the pair control wireless operations in 15 countries covering two billion people, approximately a third of the world’s population.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Orascom is currently seeking approvals in each of HTIL’s constituent countries to raise its stake in HTIL by 3.7% to 23%, and Sawiris has previously signalled his intent to increase that stake further. As part of the original deal the two companies agreed a two-year standstill period after which both will have right of first refusal on any sale. Orascom also has first call if Hutchison Whampoa chooses to sell more than 10% in HTIL. When asked by Reuters what sized stake he wanted to purchase, the Orascom chairman said simply: ‘All of it,’ before adding that he wanted a controlling stake at the very least. He declined to provide a timeline or indicate how much he would be willing to pay for the shares, but revealed that he was in ‘constant talks’ regarding the price, and looking ‘to come to a price that is fair to both parties’.