France Telecom refuses to back down on ECMS take-over bid

France Telecom has vowed to continue with its tussle with the Egyptian stock market regulator to get full control of the country’s largest mobile operator ECMS and is taking the battle to the supreme court.

The Egyptian regulator yesterday rejected an appeal by France Telecom to acquire the remaining shares of ECMS claiming that the price remains too low.

France Telecom was awarded control of Mobinil, the 51% owner of ECMS, in March under an international arbitration ruling. France Telecom owned 71.25% of Mobinil and Orascom held the remaining 28.75% . The international arbitration court ordered the Egyptians to sell to France Telecom.

The carrier has been thwarted by the Egyptian regulator in its attempts to enforce the decision. However, as the regulator maintains minority shareholdings in ECMS, the operator should be bought out at the same price as set by the arbitration ruling for the majority of the company.

"France Telecom is continuing its actions to have its rights reestablished and will bring the issue before the Egyptian supreme court. The decision by the Egyptian stock market appeals committee confirms that there is a real problem in Egypt in regards to the respect of international law and stock market rules," a France Telecom spokesman said.