France Telecom gets green light to acquire Mobinil

Natalie Apostolou
14 Dec 2009

France Telecom has secured the assets of Egypt’s largest mobile carrier Mobinil after receiving a surprise clearance from Egypt’s regulator.

The acquisition has hung in the balance for months as France Telecom and the other major shareholder, Orascom Telecom, disputed the buy-out.

France Telecom had previously made three offers to buy Mobinil shares, but they were rejected by the Egyptian regulator. The offers ranged from 187 Egyptian pounds ($34.10) to EGP230 per share.

The final offer that was accepted was 245 EGP per share.

“Today, this condition has been fulfilled. In consequence, France Telecom has contacted Orascom Telecom with a view to definitively resolving the disagreements between the two groups,” France Telecom said in a statement.

Orascom Telecom can now either respond by selling all its shares of Mobinil and the holding company to France Telecom, retaining its shares, or objecting to the offer and challenging it through court or another arbitration round.

Meanwhile France Telecom is under fire from its own regulator, attracting a €63 million ($92.1 million) fine.

The French Competition Authority fined France Telecom and its Caribbean subsidiary, Orange Caraibe, following a complaint from Bouygues Telecom's Caribbean subsidiary.

France Telecom and Orange Caraibe were jointly fined €52.5 million, while €10.5 million was reserved for France Telecom alone.

France Telecom has been accused of thwarting competition in the mobile and landline markets in the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana. At the time of the allegations, Orange Caraibe had a 75% market share in the mobile market and has been accused of pushing distributors and repair centers into exclusivity agreements.

In other complaints it is also accused of offering fixed to mobile tariffs to corporate clients at rates that were below reasonable costs.

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