Orascom clinches Tunis licence

24 May 2002

Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT)has signed the concession agreement for the country's second GSM licence, following several weeks of intensive negotiations with the Communication Technologies Ministry. The deal was signed on 12 May, as OT affiliate Orascom Telecom Tunisiadeposited the first $227 million instalment of its $454 million licence fee with the Tunis branch of Citibank, to be transferred to the public treasury (MEED 10:5:02).

OT has yet to provide details of how it has raised the necessary finance for the payment of the licence. The company has indicated that it would only be a minority partner in the Tunisian venture, with local and Arab investors accounting for at least 65 per cent of the total equity. OT itself is in the process of raising fresh equity from regional investors, and is seeking a buyer for Telecel, the sub-Saharan African telecom firm it acquired in 2000. An OT official said on 13 May that details of these transactions will be disclosed 'next week'.

The Tunisian service is scheduled to start up in September. Contracts for the supply of equipment are to be placed with at least two major international suppliers by the end of May.

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