Orange to increase stake in Egypt's Mobinil for €210M

Orange agreed to increase its stake in Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS), which operates under the Mobinil brand, to 99 per cent from around 94 per cent for a total cost of €209.6 million ($240 million).

The France-based operator said on Monday that it has reached a deal to buy out the 5 per cent stake held in Mobinil by Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT), as well as OTMT's 28.75 per cent of the voting rights of MT Telecom (MTT), the holding company of ECMS that is fully owned by Orange.

Orange added that the transaction should be finalised by the end of the first quarter and forms part of a 2012 agreement that saw the French company buy most of the stake owned by OTMT in Mobinil for about €1.5 billion. OTMT was founded by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, who is also its chairman and CEO.

Orange noted that the Mobinil investment confirms its commitment to the Egyptian market as one of its most important assets in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region and its largest market in terms of customers.

As of the third quarter of 2014, Mobinil had 33 million customers. Like its rivals Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Egypt, Mobinil could also soon benefit from new unified telecoms licences that would enable the country's mobile operators to offer fixed-line communications for the first time, competing with Telecom Egypt. However, Mobinil has so far expressed uncertainty about the licences, warning that it might opt out of the landline option unless it was permitted to build its own fixed networks, Reuters reported. The new licences are expected to be issued soon after several delays.

For its part, Orange has ambitious plans for its operations across MEA as a whole. Speaking to FierceWireless:Europe in November last year, Marc Rennard, EVP for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, said the group is in a position to invest in its 20 businesses in the region to drive growth.

Rennard also confirmed that Orange plans to place all 20 units under one holding company, replacing the multiple holding companies that currently exist and thereby creating a simpler and clearer management structure. He said he expected the process to take about six months.

For more:
- see this Orange release
- see this Reuters article

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Orange puts emphasis on growth in Africa and the Middle East
Egyptian operators await confirmation of unified licence clearance
Unified licence will cost Telecom Egypt €261 million
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