Thursday, September 10, 2009

Egypt rejects France Telecom appeal over Mobinil bid

By Alastair Sharp / Reuters / First Published: September 10, 2009

An Egyptian appeal body upheld a regulator's rejection of France Telecom's third offer to buy outstanding Mobinil shares, the deputy head of the regulator said on Tuesday.

"They have rejected the appeal and approved the Capital Markets decision," Khaled Serry Seyam, a deputy chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority told Reuters.

Seyam, whose EFSA superseded Egypt's Capital Markets Authority in July, could not immediately provide the reasoning behind the decision, taken by an independent appeal panel.

France Telecom was not immediately available for comment.

Mobinil, Egypt's largest mobile operator by subscribers, is caught in a dispute between its two main shareholders, Cairo-based regional operator Orascom Telecom and France Telecom, that has included court arbitration and regulator rulings.

The two heavyweights, who together own a controlling stake in Mobinil, have gone through years of arbitration resulting in a ruling that Orascom should sell its 28.75 percent stake in their joint holding company to France Telecom for LE 273 ($49).

OT and Egypt's regulator have said this decision compels FT to make a similar offer for the remaining shares at an equivalent price, which FT disputes. OT also has a 20 percent direct stake in Mobinil.

Egypt's regulator has rejected previous FT bids for the outstanding Mobinil shares, saying all shareholders needed to be treated equally.