Orascom Telecom’s Int’l Arbitration Over Djezzy Still Ongoing

Orascom Telecom Holding – OTH (ORTE.CA) has confirmed on Wednesday that the work on the international arbitration procedures against the Algerian government over its unit Orascom Telecom Algerie (OTA) ‘Djezzy’ are still ongoing.

Algeria’s government is in talks to buy the 51 percent stake in Djezzy held by Russian telecommunications company VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP), which became the world’s sixth-largest wireless operator by subscribers after merging with Sawiris’s Orascom Telecom Holding in 2011. VimpelCom has been in dispute with the Algerian government over the unit for more than year.

Senior official in Orascom Telecom told Amwal Al Ghad that the current negotiations between the Algerian authorities and VimpleCom have not yet reached any solution for the disputes over Djezzy. VimpleCom has not announce the final results of its negotiations with Algeria up till now.

The Russian company still prefers to reconcile and end the 2-year disputes over the OTH’s unit, the source added.

However, Orascom Telecom is still taking all the necessary procedures so as to go for to the international arbitration against the Algerian government in order to prove its rights in the Djezzy unit, the source noted.

The source further pointed out that OTH is not part in the ongoing talks between Russia’s VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP) and the Algerian government over Djezzy dispute.

On November 19th, Weather Investments, chaired by Egyptian telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris, launched its $5 billion claim on Monday against Algeria for allegedly inflicting damages to stakes it owned in the Egyptian Orascom Telecom Algerie, most popularly known as Djezzy.

‘The Algerian Government committed to a number of protections, including a promise to refrain from arbitrary interference in our operations, but has since 2008 pursued a campaign of interference and harassment which has cost Weather Investments over $5 billion in damages,’ Sawiris said in a statement.

Luxemburg-based Weather claims Algeria has repeatedly breached its responsibilities under a treaty both signed by the two parties in 1991; the ‘agreement between the Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria concerning the reciprocal encouragement and protection of investments.’

According to the statement released by Weather Investments, Algeria implicated breaches that range from imposing unjustified tax reassessments, a customs blockade preventing it from importing goods and network equipment, to imposing unjustified fines worth $1.3 billion among others.