On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- According to the Post, ZTE is tipped to be the favourite to take up the 20 per cent share stake in Zamtel. Currently, the bids are being evaluated. Sources close to Zamtel said ZTE would work in partnership with the government. The source said ZTE had taken the 20 per cent and the remaining 80 per cent was with the government. This purchase was predicted in News Update 204.

- The Egyptian telecoms group Orascom has revealed that its attempt to increase its stake in its Tunisian cellular subsidiary have stalled due to problems with the seller, the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF). Orascom has agreed to buy PIF’s 22.3% stake in Orascom Telecom Tunisia, which trades under the name Tunisiana, but says the Palestinian group has failed to complete the transaction. It is now approaching the International Court of Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce to try to resolve the matter. Orascom currently has a 35% stake in Tunisiana, which had around 900,000 subscribers at the end of 2004. While the Tunisian agreement is in limbo, Orascom has revealed that a deal to acquire PIF’s 23.07% holding in Algerian mobile operator Djezzy has been completed successfully.

- An Egyptian billionaire with links to the Palestine Investment Fund is seeking to break into Europe’s telecoms market by offering ?13 billion (£9 billion) for Wind, Italy’s No 2 telephone company. Naguib Sawiris is leading a consortium, which is called The Weather Group, plans to make its bid this week ahead of a deadline at the end of March. Mr Sawiris owns a £2 billion controlling stake in Orascom Telecom, a telecoms carrier based in Cairo that owns operations in Pakistan, Algeria and central Iraq. Its investors include the Palestine Investment Fund, which was controlled by Yassir Arafat until his death last year. Orascom Telecom has 6.5 million mobile customers and Wind would add 11.3 million as Mr Sawiris chases a hugely ambitious goal of 100 million subscribers by 2010.

- Telkom SA believes it could soon be a dominant player in the Nigerian telecoms industry as it, together with 20 other interested parties, expressed interest in acquiring the 51% stake in Nitel, which the government has put up for grabs. Telkom, which intends to bid for the stake with its 50% cellular subsidiary Vodacom, hopes to take advantage of both the mobile and fixed-line opportunities in Nigeria. Nitel also has a mobile division, M-Tel. Vodacom has already expressed that it would be more interested in acquiring M-Tel's rival V-Mobile, upon the Nigerian company's resolution of its lawsuits.