Orascom floats strongly in international waters

Despite market concerns, Middle East and African telecom holding group Orascom managed a fruitful listing on the international stock markets last month.
By Peter Conmy
Sat 12 Aug 2000 04:00 AM

Despite market concerns, Middle East and African telecom holding group Orascom managed a fruitful listing on the international stock markets last month.

Regional analysts had feared that the sale of 15% of its equity would be overshadowed by the US$1.8 billion sell-off of Turkish telco Turkcell. In the event the Orascom issue was 1.7 times oversubscribed and raised $320 million.

Orascom, which owns 26.1% of Egyptian mobile operator MobiNil as well as stakes in several telecom companies in the Middle East and Africa, says it will invest $225 million of the new capital in its current operations and use $95 million to fund the purchase of South African telecom group Telecel International.

The Egyptian bank responsible for the sell off claimed yesterday that 55% of the offer went to US and European investors, 40% to private backers in the Gulf region and 5% to Egyptian buyers.

Progress in Pakistan

25% of the Orascom’s shares were sold to private investors last year; while the Sawiris family continue to hold 60% of the equity.

Orascom Telecom also announced the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has approved the “Calling Party Pays” option for mobile operators in Pakistan, including PMCL, known as MobiLink.

Under this rule, all mobile operators in Pakistan will have to implement Calling Party Pays billing by October 1, 2000.

MobiLink will be required to negotiate and finalise its interconnect agreement based on this decision no later than August 15,2000. After which time, all tariff issues are to be finalised and “Calling Party Pays” billing will be in place.

“We applaud the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority for making this move,” says Orascom Telecom chairman, Naguib Sawiris. “We expect the Calling Party pays option to have a significant impact on the market and consumer behaviour towards the use of their mobiles.”

Big Step

In a letter to the mobile operators, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority stated “implementation of Calling Party Pays would be a step forward towards growth in the usage of telecommunication systems and will increase teledensity of mobile service.”

Sawiris agrees stating, “this indeed is a big step, for us it means we are underway in our ambitions to invigorate the MobiLink operation.”

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was swift to implement Calling Party Pays, an option of billing adopted by mobile operators in many regions around the world, after extensive consultations on the matter.

MobiLink, currently the sole GSM network operation in Pakistan, was the first to favour the decision announced by the Authority.

Orascom Telecom has an indirect 38.7% stake in MobiLink.

Orascom Telecom operates or is a participant in joint ventures that operate GSM networks in Egypt (“MobiNil”), Jordan (“Fastlink”), Pakistan (“Mobi-Link”), Syria (“SyriaTel”), Congo Brazzaville (“Libertis”), Cote D’Ivoire (“Access”), Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Central African Republic, Togo and Burundi.

In addition, Orascom Telecom holds licenses and intends to launch commercial service in Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Benin, Chad, and Uganda.

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