December 07, 2009
Algeria & Egypt: ongoing divorce
After the absurd Football Crisis (see these posts at Global Voices for bloggy round ups), but the short of it is that World Cup qualifiers last month between Egypt and Algeria degenerated into mob violence in both countries (and neither government covered itself in intra-Arab relationship glory...), the knives in Algeria have really been out for Orascom. The football nationalism was simply the last excuse the Algerian state needed for pushing Orascom out, as part of Le Pouvoir (the army factions)'s reassertion of their main-morte control over the economy. The appeal of Soviet style command and control is rather large for the corrupt generals and their affiliates that run Algeria.
So we find now, as per this arty Après Vivendi et Cevital, Sonatrach s’intéresse au dossier : la vente de Djezzy se précise (After Vivendi and Cevital, Sonatrach expresses interest in the dossier, Djezzy [Orascom mobile operator in Algeria] sale begins to be defined) that the Petrol State is going to take a piece of the action (well, is likely to, not yet really a done deal, but given Algeria, Sawiris will be wise to get out, else he faces years of destructive behaviour on the part of Algeria).
Et le scénario qui se dessine devrait être le suivant : une alliance entre le français Vivendi, le groupe privé Cevital et la Sonatrach. Le groupe français aura 49% de la future structure ; Sonatrach et Cevital se partageront les 51% restants. Cette configuration va permettre le respect de la nouvelle loi algérienne en matière d’investissements étrangers qui oblige le partenaire étranger à céder au moins 51% du capital à des Algériens. Le management devrait être assuré par Vivendi, un opérateur qui possède une longue expérience dans la téléphonie mobile.
La présence de Sonatrach dans le projet constitue une bénédiction de l’Etat algérien pour ce rachat. Mais pas seulement. Elle a une portée économique et stratégique pour l’Algérie.
The scenario being defined is likely to be the following: an alliance between the French firm Vivendi, the private [Algerian] group Cevital and Sonatrach [the state-within-a-state petrol monopoly]. The French group would have 49% of the future structure, Sonatrach and Cevital sharing the 51% remaining. This configuration will permit compliance with the new Algerian law with respect to foreign investment which obliges foreign partners to give up at least 51% of capital to the Algerians. The management of the company would be in the hands of Vivendi, an operator that posses a long experience in mobile telephone operations.
The presence of Sonatrach in the project represents the benediction of the Algerian state pour this acquisition. But not only that, it has an economic and strategic aspect for Algeria.
In many ways I find this amusingly revelatory of the direction the Algerian government is going and as well on the queer role of Sonatrach. It certainly is far from obvious what business a petrol firm has in mobile telecoms buyouts, other than representing a nice cash box for the Generals to dip into in their ongoing re-Mamloukisation of the economy. Vivendi must be rather confident of its ties to go for this, although as a major strategic buyer, they may be able to suck up the next few years of cretinous policy.
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Algeria vs Egypt: For many years now, bald men have fought over combs.
Posted by: Barry Biggs at December 30, 2009 02:26 PM
Sorry about the multiple post.
[Eds: No worries, we fixed it for you]
Posted by: Barry Biggs at December 30, 2009 02:28 PM