France Telecom acquires 94% Egypt Mobinil stake

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A Mobinil branch in downtown Cairo in this 28 October, 2010 file photo. Photo - Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters

Cairo stock exchange announced on Sunday France Telecom acquired 94% stake of Egyptian mobile phone company in a tender offer. Analysts said the French group took control of a top sector player in a volatile but lucrative emerging market.

Mobinil was founded by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris in 1998. The telecom vies with Vodafone to dominate Egypt’s mobile market, which has been buffeted by political turmoil after an uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year.

France Telecom bought most of the Mobinil shares it did not already own from its local venture partner, Sawiris’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT).

The French group was already the biggest shareholder in Mobinil.

Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country, with more than 80 million people. Government figures showed mobile subscriptions in the country grew by 25% to 91.1 million in the year to March, despite sharp economic deterioration after Mubarak’s overthrow.

France Telecom on Sunday purchased 93.9 million shares of the 100 million outstanding at a pre-agreed price of 202.5 pounds each, for a total transaction value of 19 billion Egyptian pounds ($3.15 billion).

The deal, which was subject to a preliminary agreement reached in February, reshapes its relationship with Sawiris, who had put the option to sell out completely to France Telecom starting in September 2012.

Sawiris agreed to keep a 5% stake in Mobinil.

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