MTN Won't Buy Orascom Telecom's Algerian Unit After Government Opposition

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator, won’t buy Orascom Telecom Holding SAE’s Algerian unit, Algerian Finance Minister Karim Djoudi said.

“Orascom Telecom has not approached the Algerian government regarding selling its mobile unit Djezzy, which means there is no deal with MTN or any other foreign company,” he said in parliament today.

Manal Abdel-Hamid, a spokeswoman for Orascom Telecom, said today that Orascom will enter negotiations to sell its Algerian unit to the local government. The decision comes after Algeria’s Trade Minister El-Hachemi Djaaboub told South Africa yesterday that it won’t allow Orascom to sell its Algerian unit to MTN, Cairo-based Abdel-Hamid said via phone.

MTN said on April 28 that it was in negotiations to buy all or part of Orascom Telecom, the biggest mobile-phone company by number of subscribers in the Middle East. The Algerian government has said that it would exercise its right to buy the local unit if offered for sale.

MTN has stopped talks with banks for a $5 billion loan to fund its potential bid for Orascom, two people familiar with the matter said on May 21. Orascom Telecom Algeria, or Djezzy, generated the most revenue among Orascom’s units last year, according to the company’s website.

Orascom Telecom shares rose 3.8 percent to 5.41 Egyptian pounds in Cairo trading today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ahmed Rouaba in Cairo at arouaba@bloomberg.net

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