Ooredoo, formerly known as Qatar Telecom, has raised $12 billion to finance its bid for a majority stake in Maroc Telecom, although Reuters’ sources say that Etisalat has nonetheless put a higher-priced offer on the table than its Middle Eastern rival.
Nasser Marafih, Ooredoo’s chief executive, informed Bloomberg over the weekend that the firm had raised $12 billion to buy the 53 per cent stake held in Maroc Telecom – a fixed-line and mobile operator in Morocco – by French media and telecoms group Vivendi.
Despite the impressive sum – Vivendi’s holding is worth around $5.6 billion according to current market prices –Reuters cites unnamed sources that Gulf operator Etisalat has put in a higher bid than Ooredoo.
The report adds, however, that Etisalat is not necessarily the front runner. The bid apparently needs further work and has more legal conditions than Ooredoo’s offer. Vivendi has not yet decided.
“If Etisalat cleans up its offer, then it wins,” said one of Reuters’ sources. “If not, it will go to Qatar, who also made an offer that Vivendi can accept.”
The amounts of each bid have not been disclosed.
Neither is there any indication in the Bloomberg report that Ooredoo has needed to up its offer. However, the $12 billion war chest appears to give the Qatari operator room for manoeuvre should it need to do so.
For a deal to go ahead, the Moroccan government, which holds a 30 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, must give approval.
Both Middle Eastern groups made their original official bids for Maroc Telecom in April.
Maroc Telecom is Morocco’s biggest operator, with around 17.9 million connections, compared with Meditel’s 11.6 million, according to Wireless Intelligence.