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Sat 30 Jan 2010 08:47 AM

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Saudi's Rotana signs deal with Morocco's Meditel

Moroccan firm to lure more subscribers with diverse mobile content, internet services.

Moroccan telecom firm Meditel signed a deal on Friday with Saudi broadcaster Rotana Media as part of a drive to lure more young subscribers with diverse mobile content and Internet services, its chief executive said.

Several foreign telecoms operators, including the largest players in the Middle East and North Africa, were interested in buying a stake in Meditel after it lost its two major European investors last year, its owners and industry sources say.

Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom (PT) both sold 32.2 percent stakes they had owned in Meditel since it was launched 10 years ago.

Moroccan privately owned Finance.com and state investment fund CDG now own equal stakes in Meditel which they bought for a total of $1.15bn in September.

Rotana, part of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal's Kingdom Holding company, plans to strike similar deals with firms in the region and beyond if the partnership with Meditel proves successful.

"The partnership deal with Meditel involves offering new services to the promising ... platforms. It includes all Rotana content," Rotana Digital Media Chairman Youssef Mugharbil told reporters after signing the deal with Meditel's Chief Executive Mohamed Elmandjra.

They did not provide more details of the deal.

"Meditel strategy dovetails with our views about future growth. That's why Meditel becomes the first telecoms firm to reach a deal with us," Mughrabil said. "We look to extend our experience in Morocco to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa and elsewhere."

Meditel competes with Moroccan former monopoly Maroc Teleco, in which France's Vivendi has a majority stake, and Wana, the telecoms arm of the country's biggest private conglomerate.

Rotana controls 85 percent of the music market among the Arab world's more than 300 million population and has 60 percent of its film distribution and production market. (Reuters)

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