FRANCE Telecom acquired 94 per cent of Egyptian mobile phone company Mobinil in a tender offer worth around £2bn, Egypt’s stock exchange said yesterday, giving the French group control of a top sector player in a volatile but lucrative emerging market.
Mobinil, founded by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, competes with Vodafone Egypt for dominance of Egypt’s mobile market, which was buffeted by political headwinds after an uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak last year.
France Telecom bought most of the Mobinil shares it did not already own from its local venture partner, Sawiris’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT).
The French group was already the biggest shareholder in Mobinil, and Egypt is a key part of its efforts to expand in high-growth emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East.
Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country, with more than 80m people.
Mobile subscriptions grew by 25 per cent to 91.1m in the year to March, government figures showed, defying a sharp economic downturn after Mubarak’s overthrow.
France Telecom yesterday executed its purchase of 93.9m shares of the 100m outstanding at a pre-agreed price of 202.5 Egyptian pounds each, for a total transaction value of 19bn Egyptian pounds (£2bn).
Sawiris agreed to keep a five per cent stake in Mobinil.
Last month Mobinil slumped to a first-quarter net loss of 74m Egyptian pounds due to the costs of switching its network to 3G and said its outlook was uncertain because of political volatility.
France Telecom trades in the UK through Everything Everywhere, its joint venture with Deutsche Telekom.
The firm’s Paris-traded shares closed at €10.34 on Friday, valuing the company at around €27.4bn.