Etisalat eyes controlling stake in Maroc Telecom

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Etisalat, the UAE’s largest telecom operator, has confirmed it is interested in acquiring a controlling stake in Morocco’s largest telecom operator, Maroc Telecom.

The UAE-based telco, which operates in 15 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is one of several operators to have submitted a “preliminary expression of interest” for media giant Vivendi’s 53 percent stake in the firm.

“Etisalat is among others who express interested in Vivendi’s stake,” Etisalat said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

Vivendi hopes to raise at least €5.5bn (US$7.13bn) through the sale.

Maroc Telecom, the largest company on the Moroccan exchange by market capitalisation, is Vivendi’s second largest business unit but its growth has slowed in recent years amid increased competition in its domestic market.

KT Corp, South Korea’s second-largest mobile phone carrier, in December said it had submitted a preliminary bid for the Moroccan carrier as it seeks to expand in Africa. Other bidders include France Telecom and Qatar’s Qtel.

Unnamed sources have said there is no official deadline for offers but the French conglomerate hopes to sign a deal before the end of the 1Q2013.

The Kingdom of Morocco, which owns a 30 percent stake, would need to approve any sale.

State-owned operator Qtel told Arabian Business in December it could be interested in acquiring a stake in the firm.

“It’s still very early stages. It’s something that if it’s available we would be interested to discuss,” said Dr Nasser Marafih, group CEO of Qtel.

“We are a company that is still looking at growth and we will continue to look at growth. We are focusing on the Middle East, Africa and also the Asian subcontinent, and we look at opportunities all of the time,” he added.

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