Orascom Telecom Suspends Trading on Stock Market Pending Announcement

­Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding has suspended trading of its securities on the London Stock Exchange pending an announcement later today. There have been rumours that South Africa's MTN is in talks with Orascom Telecom about buying the company's African mobile phone businesses.

According to a report earlier this morning in the Financial Times, the talks initially were limited to discussing Orascom's Algerian subsidiary, which has been causing Orascom considerable headaches over the past year. The talks were later expanded to include most of Orascom's African assets.

The move by MTN follows its failed merger attempts with India's Bharti Airtel - which itself recently agreed to buy Zain's African mobile networks.

Orascom has a market capitalisation of around US$7 billion.

One person familiar with MTN told the Financial Times that Phuthuma Nhleko, the company's chief executive, has coveted Orascom's African mobile businesses for years.