Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT) Chief Executive Naguib Sawiris stated on Sunday the company was "not on auction", denying a report by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that it had been put up for sale. "Orascom Telecom is not on auction and my family and I have no interest in exiting the telecommunications industry and view ourselves as long term, strategic players," Sawiris said in a written statement to Reuters.
The denial came hours after the British paper reported that the sale could trigger a bidding war between Europe’s leading telephone companies. The report added Sawiris has appointed a team of investment bankers to study options for Orascom, including an auction. It speculated that If Sawiris and his two brothers decide to sell, they could expect to see Orascom valued at about $17 billion, including debt.
Informal discussions over the future of Orascom have already been held with Deutsche Telekom, the German giant that owns T-Mobile, the Sunday Times noted.
Orascom, which is based in Egypt, operates in nine countries in the Middle East and Africa. It has more than 65 million customers in developing markets such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt. It is listed in Cairo, but has a secondary quote in London, from where its international operations are run.
Last week Orascom sold its 14.2% stake in Hutchison Telecoms back to the company’s Hong Kong-based parent, Hutchison Whampoa, for almost $1 billion.
Three days earlier, Orascom announced that it had concluded a definitive agreement for the sale of 100% of the share capital of Iraqna Company for Mobile Phone Services Ltd. to MTC-Atheer, the Iraqi subsidiary of Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C. ("Zain"), for a consideration of US$ 1.2 billion.