The Egyptian stock market regulator has thwarted an attempt by France Telecom (FT) to gain control of the country's largest mobile operator, claiming the French telco bid below a price mandated by the Egyptian court, and undervalued the company. France Telecom has commented it now has no intention of making a new offer for the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS), which operates under the Mobinil brand.
However, FT will continue to have a large say in ECMS/Mobinil following a recent decision by an Egyptian arbitration panel ruling in FT's favour which will force Orascom--which had a near 30 per cent shareholding in Mobinil--to sell this stake to FT. Mobinil has a 51 per cent holding in ECMS which will now be sold to FT for approximately US$1.7 billion.
This sale will effectively mean FT has a 51 per cent shareholding in ECMS, a level it claims it is "very comfortable with."
This tangle of ownership remains complex given a shareholding in Mobinil that will remain under the control of Orascom and may again lead to the lawyers becoming involved. FT and Orascom went to court in 2007 over a dispute about their joint shareholding in ECMS, although the specifics of the disagreement have not been made public.
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