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Wed 3 Jan 2001 04:00 AM

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France Telecom ups stake in MobiNil

Egypt's biggest mobile phone operator has a new majority shareholder after France Telecom signed off on a $252 million deal with Motorola.

France Telecom has finalised plans to buy Motorola’s stake in MobiNil, Egypt’s largest mobile phone operator. The US $252 million deal gives the French PTT majority control of the two year-old Egyptian firm.By taking on Motorola’s 25% share of the company, France Telecom will control just over 71% of MobiNil. The company currently has around 1.2 million subscribers in Egypt, with ClickGSM, its only rival, providing services to a million more. The sale, predicted in CommsMEAthree months ago, appears to be part of a worldwide strategy by Motorola to pull out of operating networks and concentrate on manufacturing handsets. It has just announced plans to sell holdings in Jordan and Pakistan, and late last year also pulled out of Mexico. Transfer To Orange ExpectedThe MobiNil deal values the Egyptian company at more than 11 times its 2000 pre-tax earnings. It has a market value of just under $2 billion. France Telecom is expected to transfer its holding in MobiNil to mobile operator Orange, purchased from arch-rivals Vodafone for $30 billion in May last year. France Telecom is aiming to float Orange before the end of the first quarter, and the new acquisition almost certain to boost its share price as the North African market becomes increasingly attractive to overseas investors.

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