Orascom denies imminent sale

Chief executive Naguib Sawiris rubbishes report fourth-largest Arab mobile operator subject of $17bn auction.

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By  Dylan Bowman and Reuters Published  December 10, 2007

Orascom Telecom's chief executive on Sunday denied a newspaper report that the Egyptian operator has been put up for sale.

UK weekly the Sunday Times claimed that the fourth-largest Arab mobile operator was up for sale and could be the subject of a $17 billion bidding war between Europe's top telephone groups.

The newspaper said informal discussion over have already been held with Deutsche Telekom, while other possible buyers include Britain's Vodafone, Spain's Telefonica and France Telecom.

"Orascom Telecom is not on auction and my family and I have no interest in exiting the telecommunications industry and view ourselves as long term, strategic players," said CEO Naguib Sawiris in a statement.

Orascom last week said nine-month net profit more than doubled to $1.3 billion as the number of its subscribers jumped. Profit in the third quarter was $274 million, the second-biggest quarterly profit in at least two years.

The report of a possible sale comes at a time when Orascom has been selling off some of its subsidiaries in the Arab world.

Sawiris said last week the operator would probably sell its Algerian fixed-line joint venture Lacom to a Palestinian-Jordanian company.

Orascom said on Saturday it had agreed to sell its Iraqi mobile phone unit for $1.2 billion to Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company (Zain).

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