OT returns to profitability, divests African assets

09 May 2003
Orascom Telecom (OT)on 6 May reported a return to profitability in 2002, with net full-year profits recovering to£E 1,047 million ($177.4 million) from a loss of£E 435 million ($73.7 million) in 2001. Net profits excluding the revenues from asset sales rose to£E 384 million ($65.1 million). 'This was a turnaround year,' said chairman and chief executive Naguib Sawiris. 'A year where Orascom Telecom has undergone major restructuring efforts and divestitures to impact the bottom line.' OT's latest divestment, covering its interests in 10 sub-Saharan affiliates operated by affiliate Telecel International, was announced on the same day.

EBITDA climbed 17.2 per cent to £E 1,519 million ($256 million) in 2002, while total revenue increased 7 per cent to £E 4,060 million ($688 million). Subscribers increased 12 per cent over the course of the year to 4.3 million. OT recorded a net loss of £E 96 million ($21 million) for the nine months ending 30 September, but in the fourth quarter sold the company's stakes in Tunisia's second GSM licence and in Jordan Mobile Telecommunications Services (Fastlink)for $113.5 million and $424 million respectively (MEED 17:1:03).

The Telecel divestment has been broken down into tranches. Telecel Gabon, Telecel Benin, Telecel Niger, Telecel Togoand Telecel Burkina Fasoare being acquired by Atlantique Telecomof the Ivory Coast for $23.1 million in cash and a debt reduction of $81 million. Only the first three asset sales were booked in 2002 while the final two are set to be booked in the second quarter of 2003.

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