Investment in emerging markets a must, warns Egyptian operator

Never far away from controversy, the Cairo-based mobile operator, Orascom Telecom, has hinted that it might want to merge with a larger service provider, while warning these same firms that investing in emerging markets was essential for their long-term survival.

According to Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom, the larger Western mobile operators are likely to fall out of the top 10 unless they increase their emerging markets presence. "These western incumbents do not have any choice but to try and partner with one of the emerging market players so they can keep their position," Sawiris told the Financial Times. "If they don't do that they are doomed to go out of the list."

He pointed to France Telecom, saying that unless it bought a leading mobile operator in developing countries, such as Africa's largest wireless business, MTN, the Paris-based group would lose its position as one of 10 largest telecoms companies.

Sawiris said he had been approached by Western operators interested in buying Orascom or forming an alliance. "However, I am not interested in selling. I have always said that I think my exit will be one day joining one of these players. I believe that the consolidation is feasible and unavoidable long-term."

For more on this story:
- read The Financial Times