The Algerian government has declared that it is only willing to negotiate with Orascom Telecom about the purchase of the company’s local mobile unit, Djezzy, and not with Russian telco Vimpelcom, which has agreed to buy a majority stake in the Algerian telco. Earlier this month, Vimpelcom, Russia’s second-largest mobile operator by subscribers, and Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris agreed to merge their telecommunications assets in a transaction valued at about USD6.5 billion. Algerian Finance Minister Karim Djoudi commented: ‘For us, Orascom Telecom is the owner of Orascom Telecom’s Algerian assets. They are eager to sell Djezzy and we are negotiating with them.’ He added that the government would not enter into negotiations with Vimpelcom regarding the contested unit. As previously reported in CommsUpdate, Vimpelcom has conceded that it is happy to sell its potential stake in lucrative Algerian asset Djezzy, but only if the Algerian government is willing to match its USD7.8 billion valuation. According to local media reports the Algerian government envisions a figure in the range of USD2 billion–USD3 billion for the cellco.