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OT gets liquidity boost as Tunisiana sale closes

05 January 2011
CAIRO: Orascom Telecom Holding completed its sale of Tunisiana to Qatar Telecom (QTel) on Jan. 5, in a deal worth $1.2 billion, OT said in a statement.

OT previously owned 50 percent of Tunisiana through both Orascom Tunisia Holding and Carthage Consortium.

The transaction, first announced on Nov. 22 and concluded on schedule, will see the proceeds "be used to strengthen OT's liquidity position and support the development of higher-growth businesses." 

Tunisiana has generated over 40 percent annual return on OT's investment in the business since 2003, the company said.

Against the background of VimpelCom's purchase of OT's assets, which is close to wrapping up, Weather Investments, which owns 51 percent of OT, and Vimpelcom announced their full support of the divestment of the Tunisian operations of OT, noted investment firm Beltone Financial.

Beltone affirmed OT's claim of benefiting from the capital raised through the deal: "The proceeds from the Tunisiana sale should reinforce OT's liquidity position, creating a new capital cushion for the company after the $800 million capital increase in early 2010." This will especially help the company while the conflict with the Algerian government over OT's Algerian subsidiary, Djezzy, has yet to be resolved.

Commenting on the deal in a November report by Daily News Egypt, Amr Elalfy, director of research at investment firm CI Capital, said, "For OT, it solves its liquidity issues for the next two years, and for Qtel, it gives the firm full consolidation and full control over operations."

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Beltone said that the deal's enterprise valuation was lower than expectations, at 6.1 times in comparison to the Middle East and North Africa's average of 8.1 times for 2010.

The VimpelCom $6.6 billion deal to purchase OT assets remains in limbo, while Naguib Sawiris' Weather Investments continues to study the Russian mobile phone operator's revised offer, following Telenor's ojectiions, the Norwegian telecoms provider, which owns 36 percent of VimpelCom, over certain conditions made by OT.

Nevertheless, most analysts predict a successful outcome.
With its international span, on Sept 30. 2010, OT reached almost 98 million subscribers as of September 30th, 2010.

Qtel is a telecommunications company with a presence in 17 countries, with more than 68 million customers.

© Daily News Egypt 2011

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