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Algeria threatens Orascom over MTN deal

Algeria takes aim at Orascom Telecom with threats to block a potential deal with MTN

Reports suggest Naguib Sawiris is keen to meet with Algeria's prime minister to discuss issues relating to a possible deal between Orascom Telecom and MTN Group.
Reports suggest Naguib Sawiris is keen to meet with Algeria's prime minister to discuss issues relating to a possible deal between Orascom Telecom and MTN Group.

The Algerian government may block an attempt by Orascom Telecom to sell its Algerian operation to South Africa's MTN Group.

Algeria's ministry of telecommunications said in a statement that "the government is opposed to the planned deal between MTN and Orascom with regard to the company OTA [Orascom Telecom Algerie]," the Financial Times reported.

The statement came shortly after Orascom and MTN confirmed that they were discussing a deal that could see the South African telco take control of some of Orascom's African assets

The ministry further threatened that any deal involving OTA would be "null" and could lead to the withdrawal of Orascom's licence in Algeria, according to the FT report.

The report added that Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom, was trying to arrange a meeting with Algeria's prime minister to discuss the issues raised by the country's ministry of telecommunications.

The development was the latest development in an increasingly fraught relationship between Orascom and the Algerian government. Last month, Orascom was forced to pay $113 million to the Algerian tax authority as part of a back dated tax bill disputed by the operator.