Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sawiris ‘seeks expansion in Europe, Africa’

Sawiris ‘seeks expansion in Europe, Africa’07 February 2012
Telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris considers selling non-core units and buying network operator permits Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is looking at some businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa after selling a major portion of his telecoms assets to VimpelCom. Last year the telecoms magnate divested assets including Italy’s Wind and Algerian unit Djezzy, to VimpelCom for $6 billion.

In an interview with Reuters, Sawiris said that he looks to sell non-core units that are left after the asset sale and use his company Orascom Telecom Media and Technology to acquire some mobile operations and also obtain network licences.
Sawiris told Reuters: “I want to dispose of assets not aligned with the mobile business ... and then make it a mobile company that will go out and seek what's left of operations, including managing existing operations.”
He said he hopes to double the number of subscribers in his monopoly North Korean market to 2 million by the start of 2013, adding that he expects to continue in the country after a second network permit comes up for offer later in 2012, Reuters reported.
He also said that he is considering opportunities in Libya and Syria. Sawiris said if the Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian government falls, new authorities will hold tenders to sell networks currently controlled by Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf. Sawiris told Reuters: “Then you have fourth-generation licences coming, and Africa where there are still assets left over.”
He also sees acquisition opportunities in Europe where several major firms are divesting assets in regions where further growth prospects are difficult.
He added that the 20.1% stake in Telekom Austria held in partnership with Austrian investor Ronny Pecik is “an investment of influence”. He told Reuters: “That means we would like sooner or later with the Austrian government to raise the value of this asset.”
He also said that his $1.5 billion bid for Orange Switzerland has better chances than private equity firm Apax Partners’ $1.6 billion offer. He said: “Why would private equity be able to go and buy Orange in Switzerland and do a better job than a mobile management company that has money?” GTB

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