Etisalat has reportedly lined up an EUR8 billion loan to finance a bid to acquire Maroc Telecom from French media group Vivendi.
Vivendi is aiming to offload its 53 per cent stake in the Moroccan number-one operator as it looks to reduce its debt. The Maroc Telecom stake is valued at around $6 billion, with the winning bidder also expected to make an offer to buy out minority shareholders.
The bid for Maroc Telecom is Etisalat’s first public approach for a foreign company since the failure of its $12 billion bid for a controlling stake in Kuwait’s Zain two years ago.
According to Reuters, the dual-tranche loan facility has been secured by the UAE-based operator group with the help of financial advisor BNP Paribas. The loan is understood to consist of a term loan and a bridge loan, with the latter being refinanced at a later date through a bond sale.
South Korea’s KT Corp, Qatar Telecom Saudi Telecom and South Africa’s MTN are all believed to be interested in the stake. Qtel is reportedly in talks with JP Morgan about a loan facility to finance its bid while KT is working with Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Societe Generale.
Final offers to Vivendi are due at the end of April, the sources said, although any sale would need the approval of the Kingdom of Morocco, which owns a 30 per cent stake in the operator.
Maroc Telecom is Morocco’s biggest operator, with around 17.4 million connections, compared with Meditel’s 11.4 million. It is Vivendi’s second highest contributor to earnings after French operator SFR, but growth has slowed as competition has ramped up.