OT income just keeps on rising, but HTIL bid reportedly fails

14 Nov 2006

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom has posted a 37% increase in third quarter EBITDA as its group mobile subscriber base leapt 83% year-on-year to more than 46 million. Revenues in the three months ended 30 September rose 35% to EGP18.52 billion (USD3.216 billion), pushing EBITDA up to EGP8.295 billion and net income up 12% to EGP3.203 million. Orascom has stakes in mobile operators in Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Africa and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). At the end of September its total subscriber base across all operations reached 46.52 million, up from 25.49 million a year earlier. OT said it has acquired an additional 7.91% stake in its Algerian subsidiary from minority shareholders for USD399 million. The deal raises OT’s total stake, directly and indirectly, in Orascom Telecom Algeria to 95.6%.

Meanwhile, OT has reportedly failed in a bid to acquire 100% of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (HTIL) after the parties could not agree on terms, according to India’s Business Line newspaper. 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. Orascom is currently seeking approvals in each of HTIL’s constituent countries to raise its stake in HTIL by 3.7% to 23%, and Orascom had 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 in October what sized stake he wanted to purchase, Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris 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’.