Etisalat And Ooredoo Vie For Stake In Maroc Telecom
Middle East t elecoms giants Etisalat and Ooredoo submitted binding bids to buy French conglomerate Vivendi 's 53% stake in Maroc Telecom by the April 24 2013 deadline, according t o statements by companies. This signals the start of the final phase of the emergence of a new core investor in Morocco's incumbent telecoms operator , a development that could have significant implications for regional market dynamics.
At least five major international operators had expressed interest in Vivendi's stake in Maroc Telecom after it was first announced in October 2012. However, Saudi Arabia's STC, South Korea's KT Telecom and South Africa's MTN withdrew from the process, citing various strategic reasons. The submission of binding bids by Etisalat and Ooredoo confirms the battle for the Maroc Telecom stake is now a straight shoot-out between both operators.
Details of the bids by Etisalat and Ooredoo have not been disclosed. Although the stake has a current market value of around US$5.8bn, according to Reuters, we expect Etisalat and Ooredoo to have factored in considerable premiums in their bids. Etisalat and Ooredoo had raised around US$8bn and US$12bn respectively in debt to finance their bids. It is worth noting that the Moroccan government owns around 30% of Maroc Telecom and must approve any new core investor in the company. BMI expects this to add some element of politicking in the process, in addition to the financial bids. Local media reports had suggested the government might base its choice of a new investor based on some political and diplomatic factors.
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