MTN in talks to buy Egypt’s Orascom Telecoms

South Africa’s MTN Group confirmed on Wednesday it is in talks with Orascom Telecom’s parent to buy the Egyptian firm, or some of its assets.

MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, said the discussions with Weather Investments S.P.A. — which owns 51% of Orascom Telecom — may or may not lead to a transaction.

MTN said it was looking to take control of the Egyptian telecoms firm and/or some of its businesses.

Orascom operates in high growth markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

A source told Reuters on Tuesday that sale talks between Orascom and MTN were advanced, but that Orascom was also talking to two others over its African assets.

According to reports, Orascom’s Algerian unit Djezzy, its Telecel Globe-branded sub-Saharan assets and its 50% stake in a Tunisian operation were being discussed with MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator by subscribers.

Djezzy is Orascom’s most troubled unit, the subject of a disputed tax bill and tension between the government in Algiers and the group of companies controlled by the family of Orascom Telecom’s executive chairman Naguib Sawiris.

Weather Investments is an Italian-based holding company, majority-owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris. It also owns mobile phone operations in Greece and Italy. — Reuters

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