Orascom said to freeze N Korea investments

Dylan Bushell-Embling
09 Dec 2013

Egypt's Orascom, majority owner of North Korea's sole mobile network, has reportedly decided to stop making new investments in the network until it starts seeing some returns.

The company has invested over $200 million in North Korean unit Koryolink but has yet to make any money back, the Chosun Ilboreported, citing comments from CEO Naguib Onsi Sawiris.

Koryolink is making money, but sources cited in the report say North Korean authorities have blocked the transfer of funds to its Egyptian parent.

North Korea's Ministry of Post and Telecoms owns a 25% stake in Koryolink. while Orascom subsidiary Orascom Telecom Media And Technology Holding owns the rest.

Details of Koryolink's current operating statistics are hard to find, but in April, the cellco's CEO revealed that the company was close to reaching 2 million mobile subscribers.

Besides its investments in Koryolink, Orascom has also invested $200 million in building a huge hotel in Pyongyang and setting up a joint venture bank. But unless it can resolve the returns issue, the company may not stay involved in the market for much longer.

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