Egyptian Telecom's Investment Frozen in N.Korea

Egyptian telecom service provider Orascom, which provides mobile services in North Korea, is unable to send back around US$400 million of its investments, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

An audit report by Deloitte posted on the Orascom website recently says, "North Korea has implemented currency control restrictions and, in particular, rules surrounding the repatriation of dividends to foreign investors."

Orascom started offering 3G mobile services in North Korea in a joint venture with North Korea's postal service in 2008. Koryo Link is 75-percent owned by Orascom and 25 percent by the North. It has managed to attract 2 million subscribers.

According to the audit report, Koryo Link's gross profit during the first nine months of last year rose 40 percent from the same period of 2012 to $230 million thanks to a rise in the number of subscribers. But red tape is preventing it from sending back the profits.

Orascom chief Naguib Onsi Sawiris was quoted by U.K. website Middle East Online late last year as saying he would make no more investment in North Korea until the company sees some returns.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 23, 2014 10:49 KST