CAIRO Nov 19 Weather Investments, chaired by
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, has launched a $5 billion
claim against Algeria for damage to its interest in local unit
Sawiris said on Monday that Algeria had "since 2008 pursued
a campaign of interference and harassment which has cost Weather
Investments over $5 billion in damages". He cited the attempted
forced sale of all or part of Djezzy to the government.
Weather said its claim was registered with the International
Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) - a
member of the World Bank group.
Algeria imposed unjustified tax penalties for the years
2004-09, and failed to protect Djezzy premises from raids during
football riots in November 2009, Weather said.
Russian telecoms firm Vimpelcom acquired Djezzy last
year as part of a $6 billion deal to buy the assets of Sawiris's
Egyptian group Orascom Telecom. Weather said it was an
indirect shareholder in Djezzy.
Under pressure from Algeria, Vimpelcom agreed to talks on
selling a controlling stake in Djezzy..
Algeria then imposed a $1.3 billion fine on Djezzy for
violating foreign currency regulations, souring the talks.
Vimpelcom appealed against the ruling prompting analysts and
media to speculate the talks would be called off.
"Weather Investments claims that Algeria has repeatedly
breached its international legal obligations to Weather
Investments under an investment treaty between Algeria and the
Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union (the Treaty)," it said.