On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- Billionaire Naguib Sawiris said Wind SpA, the unprofitable Italian phone company he's offered to buy for 12 billion euros ($15.4 billion), will eventually be merged with Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, Egypt's biggest phone company. Weather Investments, Sawiris's personal investment vehicle, is bidding for Wind with IPE-Ross, a fund backed by French financier Philippe Nguyen and Wilbur Ross, the chairman of U.S. investment company WL Ross & Co. Sawiris, 50, is chairman and chief executive of Cairo-based Orascom. Sawiris wants Wind, Italy's second-biggest fixed-line phone company and the No. 3 wireless company, so he can create a pan- Mediterranean telephone company, he said in an interview in Cairo on April 3. Combining Orascom with Wind ``would provide a lot of stability'' after the company's debt is reduced, he said. Orascom is present in eight markets including Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia.

- Morocco’s second largest cellco Médi Télécom (Meditel) has contracted technology vendor Siemens to provide it with a second GPRS platform, with the aim of broadening its limited GPRS network coverage, as well as improving data transfer quality and security. At the end of 2004, Meditel’s GSM network had around three million users, behind rival Maroc Télécom, which had 6.36 million subscribers.

- The Thuraya Satellite Communications Company will post a USD26m profit on revenues of around USD270m for 2004. This represents a decline from a USD38m profit in 2003 but is due to depreciation on its two satellites. Libyan operations are expected to boost profits in 2005.

- South African technology company Dimension Data (Didata) said on Monday it plans to buy Australian IT consulting company Bellerephon Group, for an undisclosed amount. "We're not disclosing the value because it is immaterial," a company official said. "We intend to buy the firm by September 30 upon certain business performance conditions being met." Didata said the unlisted Bellerephon would enable the firm to upgrade its clients' Microsoft technology efficiently while reducing costs.

- The Nigerian Ministry of Communications has announced it is delaying the sale of government owned PTO Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) until the third quarter of 2005, but declined to give a reason for its actions. The Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) had originally said it hoped to offload a 51% stake in the beleaguered NITEL by June. The state’s last attempt at a stake sale failed in March 2003 after the preferred bidder, International London Limited (ILL), failed to pay the USD1.11 billion asking price and the latest sell-off was provoked by the government’s annulment of an NITEL management contract over alleged incompetence; Pentascope of the Netherlands had been given the three-year USD12 million contract when ILL pulled out of the sale. South Africa’s dominant telecoms services provider Telkom SA is thought to be among the companies interested in NITEL.