As expected, UAE-based operator group Etisalat closed its acquisition of the 53 per cent stake of Maroc Telecom previously held by French media group Vivendi. The final purchase price was €4.14 billion.
Owing to Moroccan stock market rules that require a company that owns more than 40 per cent of another business to bid for the shares it does not already own, Etisalat will make an initial offer with the Moroccan Capital Market Authority.
The completion of the deal comes six months after Vivendi first agreed to sell its 53 per cent stake in the Moroccan market leader to Etisalat.
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 acquisition of the Maroc Telecom stake will boost Etisalat’s position in Africa, where it already has operations in Egypt and Nigeria, among others.
The group announced last week that it would sell operations in French-speaking West Africa to Maroc Telecom for a total of $650 million, with the agreement dependent on the completion of the transaction with Vivendi.
Although no reason was given for the planned transaction, it has been suggested that the operations would benefit from the expertise of Maroc Telecom, which as well as Morocco, has had success with operations in Gabon, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
The transfer of the West African assets also requires competition and regulatory approvals in the six countries in which the operations are based.
Etisalat group CEO Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar recently said the company plans to continue to expand its “service offering and geographic footprint” to diversify its revenue base and “cement our regional leadership position”— with Africa remaining a strategic region.