The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) has finally approved an offer from France Telecom (FT) for the acquisition of those shares it does not currently own in mobile operator MobiNil, Reuters reports. Under the terms of the deal FT will pay EGP245 (USD44.71) per share. This is the fourth offer the French company has submitted for minority holdings in MobiNil; previous bids of EGP187, EGP237 and EGP230 were rejected by the Capital Market Authority (CMA), the EFSA’s forerunner, in April, July and August respectively. The EFSA has said that it had decided to ‘approve the obligatory tender offer to buy’, although it did not offer any further detail as to the reason for its decision.
FT’s offers followed an arbitration court ruling in April 2009 ordering Egypt’s Orascom Telecom to sell its stake in a joint holding company, MobiNil Telecom, to FT for EGP273 per share. Subsequently, FT revealed it had voluntarily filed a proposal with the CMA to offer MobiNil’s minority shareholders a public takeover bid. Orascom claimed that under Egyptian law FT must also purchase its 20% direct stake in the cellco at a price of EGP273.26 per share, a claim rejected by FT, which argued that the tender for direct shares was not covered by the arbitration ruling.
Following this latest development FT confirmed its offer had been approved, noting: ‘In consequence, France Telecom has contacted Orascom Telecom with a view to definitively resolving the disagreements between the two groups.’ Orascom however, looks unlikely to give up just yet, with spokeswoman Manal Abdel Hamid saying: ‘We are astonished by this decision.’ Orascom has said it will now consult legal representation on its response to the decision.