Egypt’s Orascom has dropped its legal action against France Telecom over ownership of ECMS (Mobinil), Egypt’s largest mobile operator, but it still remains unclear who is in control of the firm, reports Reuters. Orascom said it had dropped its action as an “amicable gesture” to focus attention on running ECMS, though France Telecom immediately hit back with a statement of its own describing Orascom’s move as “without foundation and potentially misleading.” Orascom had been attempting to sue France Telecom over allegations that it had not met the requirements of an arbitration court ruling in May to buyout Orascom’s shares in ECMS. However, Orascom said the legal proceedings are “no longer necessary in light of recent public pronouncements by France Telecom, which make it clear… France Telecom has no intention of extending a public tender offer on the same terms as those contained in the [court] award.” Meanwhile, France Telecom’s statement noted that “it has formally brought to the attention of Orascom Telecom that the procedure it launched is susceptible to make [Orascom] lose its rights in the Mobinil structure.”

It is this complicated ownership structure that has formed the basis of the dispute. France Telecom already owns 71.25 percent of the holding company (known as Mobinil) that controls 51 percent of ECMS, and was ordered by the court to buy-out Orascom’s 28.75 percent share in the holding company at a set price of EGP273.26 per share. But the dispute centres on what happens to the remaining 49 percent shareholding, which includes a separate 20 percent Orascom holding and 29 percent free float. France Telecom has argued that its purchase of the minority ECMS shareholders is not covered by the arbitration court ruling, an argument rejected by Orascom and the Egyptian regulator, which has rejected several bids by France Telecom for the minority shares claiming they were too low.