Orascom offers $1bn to settle tax dispute - report

Long-running spat with tax authorities over 2007 deal could end soon

Orascom HQ in Cairo
Orascom HQ in Cairo

Orascom Construction Industries has offered to pay the Egyptian Tax Authority $1bn (EGP: 7.1bn) in order to settle a long-running tax dispute, according to reports in the Egyptian media.

The dispute, over the sale of a subsidiary to French building materials group Lafarge six years ago for $12bn, led Egypt's public prosecutor to issue an order banning Orascom's chief executive Nassef Sawiris and his father Onsi Sawiris from travelling outside the country earlier this month.

Egypt's Tax Authority is seeking around $2.1bn from Orascom which it says is owed as a result of the sale.

OCI has not commented on reports that it has offered to settle the dispute. It had previously argued that it did not owe anything as the sale complied with the law at the time of the sale, which "clearly exempts all capital gains resulting from the sale of shares listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange".

However, in recent days, Egypt's Minister for Investment Ossama Saleh has indicated that he is willing to intervene in order to solve the dispute.

In January, Orascom unveiled plans to raise $2bn through a fundraising which would see its shares delist from the Egyptian stock exchange and re-list on the Amsterdam-based NYSE Euronext market. Around half ($1bn) of the new money was from a US-based consortium led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

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