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10 February 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
A Kuwait-based company, Agility, is complaining that the government of Iraq has “indirectly confiscated” its 54% stake in Korek, an Iraqi operator in which Orange has a 44% stake.
Agility, a logistics company with interests throughout the
world, has filed a complaint with the World Bank’s
International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, in
an attempt to settle the dispute. Agility says the investment
is worth over $380 million.
Capacity has approached Orange, which bought the stake in 2011,
for a comment.
According to Reuters, Agility says "Iraq had 'indirectly
confiscated’ its investment, which was worth over
$380 million, and violated a bilateral protocol between Kuwait
and Iraq on encouraging the movement of capital and investment
between the two countries".
Neither the agency nor Agility are providing details of how the
"confiscation" took place. Korek lists the group CFO of Agility
as one of its directors, along with Marc Rennard, a deputy CEO of Orange.
Rennard was the Orange executive in charge of the Middle East
and Africa but moved on to other responsibilities from early
2016, to be replaced by Bruno Mettling, who is not
listed as a director by Korek.
Korek was set up in the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq but its
licence allows it to offer services throughout Iraq –
that its ability to do so has been hampered by the security
situation. The circumstances of the Iraqi
government’s action are still unclear.
Korek won one of three 3G licences in Iraq in 2015, and at the
end of that year launched Free Basics, the free social media
access service sponsored by Facebook. The company remains
branded as Korek, not Orange.
The company announced in October 2016 that Ericsson had been
contracted to upgrade its WCDMA core network.
Agility’s official Iraqi head office is in Basra,
currently occupied by a number of militant organisations. A
leader of the Iraqi Hezbollah group was assassinated in the
city only yesterday, according to local reports.