Etisalat grabs Maroc Telecom stake

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A source close to the bidding process has revealed that Gulf telecom operator Etisalat has offered a higher bid for Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom stake.
A source close to the bidding process has revealed that Gulf telecom operator Etisalat has offered a higher bid for Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom stake.

A source close to the bidding process has revealed that Gulf telecom operator Etisalat has offered a higher bid for Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom stake.

Etisalat was competing against Qatari bidder Ooredoo for Vivendi’s 53 per cent shareholding in Maroc Telecom. Sources close to Reuters also suggest that the bids were lower than the estimated USD 6.5 billion Vivendi was hoping to fetch from the sale.

Earlier media reports highlighted that Etisalat had signed a USD 8 billion loan facility to support its takeover bid for Maroc Telecom. However, Vivendi has not reached a final decision regarding the sale, as Etisalat’s bid needs further work and has attached more legal conditions than Ooredoo’s offer.

Vivendi has consulted Etisalat in recent weeks to remove some of the legal clauses in its bid. The UAE-based telecom giant will hold an extraordinary shareholder meeting on May 28 to approve the financing package for the bid. On the other hand, Ooredoo has offered a much simpler offer with minimal conditions and has not been asked by Vivendi to improve its offer.

Vivendi may hold exclusive negotiations with a preferred bidder next week after Etisalat’s shareholder meeting. However, much to the frustration of other bidders, this may cause the process to take longer. The bidders are eager to reach a final deal before the holy month of Ramadan, which starts in early July.

Vivendi was interested in selling its ownership in the Moroccan company to reduce debts, and increase focus on media. The Maroc Telecom sale is important for the strategic direction of the company. The telecom offers fixed-line, mobile and Internet services in the kingdom and is rated as one of the best African firms in the sector, with operating units in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania. Although the company’s growth has slowed in recent years, sub-Saharan Africa offers a lucrative opportunity for extremely high sales and good profitability.

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