Veon to buy 43% of GTH it doesn’t yet own for just $600m

26 June 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Amsterdam-based Veon is on the verge of succeeding in achieving its long-held ambition of taking 100% control of Egyptian subsidiary Global Telecom Holding (GTH).

Veon has owned about 57% of GTH for many years, through which it controls Djezzy in Algeria, Jazz in Pakistan and Bangalink in Bangladesh. Now it is set to take over the rest.

Veon chair and CEO Ursula Burns (pictured) commented: “These are significant transactions for both Veon and GTH, designed to benefit all stakeholders.” Veon appears, on the face of it, to have bought a bargain, paying one tenth of the sum the group paid nine years ago for the 57%. 

GTH was formerly known as Orascom Telecom Holdings and used to be owned by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris. Veon – then known as VimpelCom – took control of 57% of Orascom Telecom in 2010 for $6.6 billion and has been trying to acquire the rest ever since.

The biggest obstacle was GTH’s tax liabilities to the Egyptian government. However this morning Veon announced that GTH has agreed to pay “all outstanding tax liabilities”, for a total of $136 million.

Now the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority has approved Veon’s acquisition of all the shares in GTH it does not already own – at a cost of 10.1 billion Egyptian pounds ($600 million).

Burns said that the deal, “will simplify the Veon group structure while increasing its stake in operating companies in Pakistan, Algeria and Bangladesh.” She added: “We look forward to completing these transactions and the full restructuring of GTH by year end.”

GTH used to own 75% of Koryolink in North Korea, but it appears this is still controlled by a separate Sawiris company, Orascom Investment Holding.

Veon’s biggest business is the Russian mobile company, still called VimpelCom though trading under the Beeline brand.