Cairo-based Orascom Telecom (OT)saw net profits soar to£E 1,556 million ($251million) in the six months ending 30 June, compared with£E 137 million ($22 million) for the same period last year. The profit rise came on the back of a 106 per cent increase in first-half revenues to£E 5,442 million ($879 million), bolstered by strong subscriber growth in Algeria, Pakistan and Iraq. OT on 25 August announced that its total subscriber base reached 10 million in July.
The strong performance came despite the loss in revenues following the sale of a number of OT's Telecelsubsidiaries in Africa, as well as a net loss of £E 74 million ($12 million) related to the sale of a majority equity stake in Ivory Coast operator Telecel Lotenyin April. However, this was offset by £E 318 million ($51 million) in revenue from the divestiture of Pioneers, the non-operating holding company for Jordan Mobile Telecommunications Services (Fastlink), which was sold by OT in December 2002 (MEED 31:7:04). OT is preparing to hold on 1 September an extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders to approve a proposed $260 million bond issue to refinance existing bank debt and finance the expansion of its overseas operations. EFG-Hermesis the global co-ordinator and adviser for the transaction (MEED 13:8:04, Banking & Finance). OT has already signed an agreement with three local institutions - National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr and Bank of Alexandria - to underwrite the issue for $150 million in hard currency and £E 700 million ($110 million) in local currency. The company plans to release further details of the offering once it receives approval from the Capital Markets Authority. The company has declined to comment on reports that it is in negotiations to buy a controlling stake in Bangladeshi GSM operator Sheba Telecomfrom its principal shareholder, Integrated Services (ISL), also of Bangladesh.