Egypt directs France Telecom to sell 15 pct of Mobinil

Telecoms

Egypt's ministry of communications has sent a request to France Telecom directing it to ensure that 15 per cent of the shares of mobile phone carrier Mobinil are publicly traded or owned by Egyptian investors.

France Telecom currently owns 94 per cent of Mobinil. Earlier this year, France Telecom bought most Mobinil shares it did not already own from its local venture partner, Naguib Sawiris's Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT), leaving Orascom with 5 per cent of the shares.

Mobinil sent a statement to the stock exchange on Monday night announcing that France Telecom has been directed by the Egyptian ministry of communications to ensure that 15 per cent of Mobinil is under Egyptian ownership or publicly traded.

France Telecom "is currently studying all options available to accommodate the ministry's request," Mobinil said in its statement.

Mobinil said last week it hopes to swing back into profit in 2013 after being badly hit by the political turmoil that followed the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak last year.

The mobile carrier slumped to a net loss of LE94 million in the first three quarters of 2012, versus LE76 million for the same period a year earlier.

Losses were partly due to the costs of switching its network to the 3G technology which is in standard use in developed markets. The firm said earlier this year its outlook was uncertain because of political volatility.

Mobinil closed trading at LE158.86 per share on Tuesday last week.