EGYPT’S ORASCOM TELECOM FINALISES SALE OF SUB-SAHARAN COMPANIES

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Egypt’s Orascom Telecom has finalised the sale of seven sub-Saharan GSM companies in its Telecel International Limited (TIL) unit as part of its ongoing restructuring and focus on core assets.

In a first transaction, regional cellular operator OT said it sold the Telecel operations in Gabon, Benin, Togo, Niger and Burkina Faso to Atlantique Telecom for US$23.1 million in cash and a debt reduction in TIL and consequently OT of about US$81 million. Atlantique Telecom is a wholly owned subsidiary of Banque Atlantique of the Ivory Coast.

An OT statement said the transfer of shares in the Gabon, Benin and Niger units had already taken place, while the transfer of the other two firms shares was still subject to final third party consent. Only some of the transfers will be reflected in TIL’s end-year results, while the remainder will be seen in second quarter 2003 figures.

In a second transaction, OT sold Telecel Zambia, U-Com in Uganda, Telecel Burundi, Telecel Central African Republic and Telecel PTY—a management company based in South Africa—to the Gloria Trust, the previous minority shareholder in TIL. In payment, the Trust "transferred its 26.5 percent ownership in TIL as well as US$27 million in loan forgiveness and 7.5 million (Orascom Telecom) GDRs", OT said in a statement. It said the deal reduced TIL’s net debt by US$47 million and would be reflected in OT’s 2002 accounts.

OT said this transaction also gave OT 100 percent ownership over TIL whose assets include 52.5 percent of Loteny Telecom in Ivory Coast, 100 percent of X-COM in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 60 percent of Telecel Zimbabwe and 100 percent of M-Link, an international carrier based in Belgium. Reuters via Liquid Africa