Orascom and FT reach agreement on MobiNil ownership dispute

15 Apr 2010

The long-running battle for control of Egyptian mobile network operator Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) looks close to being resolved after European telecoms giant France Telecom (FT) and Egyptian group Orascom Telecom announced that they had reached a tentative agreement. According to Dow Jones Newswires, the proposed accord was announced by the two parties in conjunction with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which had overseen negotiations. It is understood that under the terms of the deal MobiNil’s current corporate structure will remain unchanged, as will existing voting rights in the cellco, with a statement announcing the deal noting: ‘The two groups will continue their partnership on a renewed basis going forward, implementing a revised shareholder agreement but with no change to the existing ownership structure or their shareholders’ voting rights … This agreement will allow the two telecoms operators to contribute their respective know-how and added value to the successful and profitable development of MobiNil.’

Further, the proposals will also see the integration of local internet service provider LINKdotNET Egypt, at present a wholly-owned Orascom subsidiary, into MobiNil, while FT has also reportedly agreed to change its accounting methods to fully consolidate MobiNil. FT and Orascom claim that the agreement will include settlements for all existing disputes between the shareholders, and full details will be made public once the deal has been finalised, which is expected to be ‘within weeks’.

The revelation comes hot on the heels of the announcement earlier this week that an Egyptian court had upheld an appeal by Orascom which blocked a proposed buyout of MobiNil by FT; FT had offered EGP245 (USD44.4) per share for the stake it did not hold in the mobile operator. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MobiNil is owned by MobiNil Telecom (51%) and Orascom Telecom (20%), with the remaining 29% publicly floated. MobiNil Telecom is itself owned by FT (71.2%) and Orascom (28.8%), but following an April 2009 ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Orascom was instructed to sell its stake in the holding company to the French outfit.