Middle-East operator Etisalat has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom for €4.2 billion from French media group Vivendi.
The agreement is subject to certain conditions, including the approval from regulators in the countries in which Maroc Telecom operates, including Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Maurtania. The Moroccan government must also approve the deal as it holds a 30 per cent stake in the operator.
Vivendi said the sale of its stake in Morocco’s largest operator is part of the company’s strategy “to focus and strengthen its businesses around media and content activities” and that it is confident the transaction will be completed by early 2014.
It was confirmed in July that Vivendi was in exclusive talks with UAE-based Etisalat regarding the sale of the Maroc Telecom stake, with discussions extended in September.
It was suggested that the Moroccan authorities were keen for Etisalat to work with a local partner as part of its approval conditions for the deal. It is unclear whether a partner has been found as part of the agreement.
Both Qatari operator group Ooredoo and South Korea’s KT had previously expressed an interest in Maroc Telecom but withdrew their interests due to concerns about the length of the process and the valuation of the stake, respectively.
The future of Vivendi-owned French operator SFR is also uncertain, with reports that an IPO is being considered for the business. Vivendi also suggested it could restart an auction for its Brazilian phone operator GVT, which was suspended in March after failing to secure a suitable price.
For Etisalat, the acquisition of the Maroc Telecom stake will boosts its position in Africa, where it already has operations in Egypt and Nigeria, among others.