Orascom, the Egyptian holding company owned by Naguib Sawiris, is reported to be interested in buying French cellco Bouygues Telecom if it were put up for sale. In an interview with French daily Les Echos, Sawiris said he had not had any talks with the Bouygues group on the matter. The Orascom CEO also said ‘an alliance with Iliad is possible’ for the fourth mobile phone licence that is being auctioned by the French government, although again he stated no talks have taken place. He said he had considered making a lone bid for France’s fourth UMTS mobile licence, but opted against the move, describing the EUR619 million (USD854 million) price set by the French government as ‘steep’. Iliad is the only applicant for the licence and the company has said it expects to spend up to EUR1.9 billion on a launch if its application is successful.
In a separate, but related story French construction and telecommunication group Bouygues has bought an additional 6.5% stake in Bouygues Telecom from BNP Paribas, raising its stake to 89.5%.