Latest media reports suggest that Qatar-backed telecom group Ooredoo has pulled out of the bidding process for Vivendi’s 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom.
As a result, Etisalat is now the only company bidding for the stake. Ooredoo, formerly Qatar Telecom, was reported to have raised USD 12 billion financing for the bid. Reuters sources suggest the bids were lower than the USD 6.5 billion Vivendi was hoping to fetch from the sale.
Earlier, sources close to the bidding process had revealed that Etisalat had offered a higher bid for Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom stake. However, Ooredoo had made a much simpler offer with minimal conditions and was not been asked by Vivendi to improve its offer. A well-informed source has revealed to the media that talks between Vivendi and Etisalat are advancing well and, “a final announcement could be made in the coming weeks as Etisalat has agreed to remove some legal conditions that were hampering its bid.”
According to Ooredoo’s Chief Executive Officer, Nasser Marafih; “Although Maroc Telecom represents a good fit for our global portfolio, it is no longer in the best interests of our shareholders to continue to commit capital to what has become a lengthy process. We are thus withdrawing our offer and we will focus our attention on generating value in other opportunities across our global footprint through organic and acquisitive strategies.”
Vivendi was interested in selling its ownership in the Moroccan company to reduce debts, and instead 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 units in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania. Although the company’s growth has slowed in recent years, the sub-Saharan Africa offers a lucrative opportunity for high sales and profitability.