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Egypt court delays hearing on Mobinil sale

An Egyptian court on Saturday set March 6 for the next hearing in the long-running dispute between France Telecom and Orascom Telecom over ownership of Mobinil.

Lawyers for the two firms presented their arguments to Judge Hamdy Yassin, one month after the same court issued an initial ruling that halted an FT bid for outstanding shares in Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS), known by its Mobinil brand name.

France Telecom and other major shareholder Orascom Telecom are fighting a protracted legal battle over ownership of Mobinil. The two firms jointly own the holding company that controls the firm, while Orascom also holds a 20 percent direct stake.

“The whole world is stopped. All business is stopped where this crisis is concerned,” Youssef Abou Zeid, a lawyer representing France Telecom said heatedly before the court.

France Telecom (FT) subsidiary Orange Participations offered

to buy all outstanding shares in ECMS for 245 Egyptian pounds each beginning last December 15. Orascom had appealed to the court after the market regulator allowed the offer.

Orascom argued that France Telecom should have offered 273 pounds for the shares, the same price the French firm was ordered to pay Orascom in an earlier arbitration ruling for its stake in the holding company, which holds 51 percent of ECMS shares.

In total, the French firm owns 36.4 percent of the firm, while Orascom has 34.6 percent. Small shareholders own the remaining 29 percent.

“It’s expected that next session the court will most probably postpone announcing the verdict from the session of 6 March to a following session,” a lawyer representing Orascom Telecom told reporters following the court session.
Source: Reuters

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