Sawiris: ‘Rumours of Globalive’s death have been greatly exaggerated’

18 Nov 2009

Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, still aims to launch a mobile network in Canada before the end of this year via subsidiary Globalive Wireless, despite its market entry being blocked by regulator the CRTC for not complying with foreign ownership rules, Reuters reports. ’We are set to launch before Christmas,’ Sawiris told a Cairo news conference, explaining that he was confident in gaining regulatory approval by then. ‘There were some barriers to our control over the company [in Canada]. We are not controlling the company and are sticking to all [the CRTC’s] terms,’ Sawiris said, without elaborating further. Globalive spent USD420 million on wireless frequency concessions, as part of the USD700 million in financing it received from Orascom, which owns 65% of the start-up’s equity but only minority voting rights. It was reported earlier this month that talks with proposed new financial backers for Globalive had stalled.

Meanwhile, Sawiris stepped down as Orascom’s CEO this week, which he says will give him more time to focus on the Egyptian group’s long-term future, including the possibility of a merger with ‘a similar sized company.’