Lacom sale talks already under way

7 Nov 2007

The Egyptian telco Orascom says negotiations over the sale of its Algerian venture Lacom have already begun. Lacom, which is a 50:50 venture between Orascom and Telecom Egypt, was licensed as Algeria’s second national wireline operator in March 2005, going on to launch in February the following year, but it has been unable to make an impression on the market as it faces stiff competition from state-owned incumbent operator Algerie Telecom. Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris claims the country’s regulator, the ARPT, is stifling competition and allowing Algerie Telecom to dominate the market, Reuters reports. He adds that this could deter Lacom’s potential buyers. ‘They [the ARPT] supported the state-owned firm to the extent that they killed us,’ Sawiris says. ‘Once we started, it [Algerie Telecom] slashed prices to below cost. We complained that this would bring monopoly back, to no avail.’ Orascom says Telecom Egypt is leading the negotiations with the potential buyer, which has not been named.