RealTime IT News

Orascom Buys Telecel In Egypt's Biggest Acquisition

Orascom Telecom, which holds the majority of the ISP market share in Egypt, this week bought 80 percent of African GSM mobile operator Telecel International for $413 million.

Telecel International, which says it was among the first to pioneer wireless technology in Sub-Saharan Africa, will bring its 11 GSM licenses to Orascom Telecom. Orascom Telecom's GSM operations include Egypt, Chad, Syria, Jordan, Benin, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In addition to their wireless growth, Orascom Telecom is developing an Internet strategy to interface with its GSM operations. Orascom Telecom currently holds, through its ISP subsidiaries, more than 60 percent of the market share in Egypt.

This acquisitionis the largest known buy made by an Egyptian company, either in a domestic or overseas deal.

"This step is also an important milestone in Egypts drive to become a hub and center for technology, financial transactions and capital market activities for the Middle East and Africa," according to Hassan Heikal, Managing Director of EFG Investment Banking, who brokered the deal on behalf of Orascom Telecom.

During the first half of this year, Orascom Telecom expects to announce the acquisition of additional GSM licenses. Orascom Telecom is a front-runner finalist for the first GSM license in Yemen, and is cooperating with the government for the GSM license in Algeria. Later this year, Orascom Telecom is planning an IPO, in the aim of raising $400-500 million through a Cairo and London Stock Exchange listing.

Orascom Telecom is the only company in Egypt with licenses all three privatised communications sectors wireless, fixed line and VSAT technologies.