UPDATE 1-Russia's Altimo offers $1.8 bln to buy out Orascom minorities

Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:03am EDT

* Launches offer to buy out Orascom minorities

* Vimpelcom will not tender its 52 pct stake in the offer

MOSCOW, April 16 (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Altimo launched on Tuesday an offer to buy out minority shareholders in Egypt's Orascom Telecom for around $1.8 billion.

Egypt's stock exchange said in March that a Cyprus-based firm owned by Altimo had offered $0.70 per share for all of Orascom Telecom's 5.2 billion shares.

Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, a heavyweight on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, is controlled by Russia's Vimpelcom, which together with subsidiaries owns 51.92 percent. Altimo owns 47.85 percent of Vimpelcom.

Vimpelcom had said it would not sell its shares in Orascom, which has assets in Canada and various emerging markets such as Bangladesh.

The offer comes as uncertainty over Orascom's most lucrative asset, Algerian unit Djezzy which the Algerian government plans to nationalise, appears close to being resolved.

In March, Algerian newspaper Al-Fadjr reported the local government had decided to lift a ban on foreign exchange transfers, enforced on the unit in 2010, paving the way for the sale of a controlling stake held by Orascom.

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