Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is being advised by J.P. Morgan Chase on a potential deal to acquire the majority stake in Maroc Telecom currently owned by media group Vivendi, reports Reuters.
Qtel has expanded its presence to 16 countries in 2012, and has spent almost US$4 billion in separate deals to take majority ownership of Iraqi unit Asiacell and Kuwaiti operator Wataniya.
Vivendi, which also owns French number-two operator SFR, is looking to sell its 53 percent stake in the Moroccan market leader as part of a strategic review to pay down its debt, boost its share price and reduce its exposure to the capital-intensive telecoms business.
Sources said that Vivendi is hoping to generate around EUR5.5 billion from the sale. The kingdom of Morocco owns a 30 percent stake in Maroc Telecom and so would need to approve the sale of Vivendi’s stake.
Reuters reported in October that Qtel, UAE-based Etilisat, Saudi Telecom and South Africa’s MTN had all spoken to Vivendi’s advisers about the Maroc Telecom stake.
France Telecom could also be interested, with CEO Stephane Richard telling Le Figaro this week that Maroc Telecom would be a “strategically interesting” acquisition. France Telecom already owns a minority stake in Morocco number-two, Meditel.
Vivendi first bought a stake in Maroc Telecom in 2001 and the North African company is now its second-biggest division. As well as Morocco, the company also operates in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania.
However, Maroc Telecom has struggled in recent years with increasing competition and had to make around 800 employees redundant in July.