Orascom to refer Algerian tax demands to international arbitration

Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) plans to resort to international arbitration after the Algerian government levied additional taxes on Djezzy, the Algerian subsidiary of OTH, according to OTH chairperson Naguib Sawiris.

Sawiris said on Monday that an official decision has been made to commence legal action after Christmas and New Year vacations.

Internal restructuring of the company’s finances, and the search for a law firm to handle the case, delayed the decision to take the matter to international arbitration, he added.

Sawiris also said that OTH has not sold additional assets to settle the Algerian tax authority's demands.

OTH announced in mid-December that Djezzy had received notification from the Algerian tax authority requesting him to pay US$230 million in back-taxes. OTH claims it has already paid the taxes.

Djezzy insists it is being asked to pay taxes for years of operation that should have been tax-exempt in accordance with Algerian investment laws.

In other news, Weather Investment–another Sawiris-owned company–announced in a statement two days ago that it received a new merger offer from Russia’s Vimpelcom. Weather Investment said it is carefully examining the offer.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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