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MTN’s Areeba Negotiating With Guinea After Assets Seized

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, said its Areeba unit is in talks with Guinea’s government after its assets and staff were seized.

“Areeba is negotiating in good faith with the government of Guinea,” Rich Mkhondo, spokesman for Johannesburg-based MTN, said in an e-mailed response to questions today. “We are confident that both parties will reach an amicable solution that will be in the best interest of all the stakeholders affected, including the millions of MTN subscribers in Guinea.” Areeba’s network continues to carry calls even as the company’s license has been suspended, Mkhondo said in a separate phone call today.

Guinea’s communications minister, Oye Guilavogui, ordered Areeba to settle a $22.2 million dispute by April 29 after the four months of negotiations between the two stalled, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported on April 30, citing a report by Guineenews. Mkhondo declined to say why the company’s operations were seized by the West African country.

MTN bought Areeba, Guinea’s biggest mobile-phone company, as part of its $5.53 billion 2007 merger with Middle Eastern mobile-phone company Investcom LLC.

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