Etisalat ditches bid for outstanding Maroc Telecom shares

Etisalat has dropped its bid to acquire all outstanding shares in Maroc Telecom, reversing a previous offer unveiled only last week.

The UAE-based carrier ditched its offer for the outstanding shares in the Moroccan operator after gaining an exemption from a Moroccan trading rule that required it to bid for outstanding free float shares in the African operator.

Etisalat has already agreed to pay Vivendi €4.14 billion ($5.64 billion) for the French group's 53 per cent holding in Maroc Telecom.

A spokesman told Reuters that authorities granted Etisalat the exemption on the grounds of public and national interest, and that the decision means the operator won't now bid for the remaining Maroc Telecom shares.

The operator previously said it would begin consolidating Maroc Telecom and its subsidiaries following the completion of the Vivendi deal mid-May.

Moroccan rules require an acquiring company to buy out minority shareholders if it owns at least 40 per cent of the voting rights of the company it has bought.

Prior to completing the Vivendi share acquisition, Etisalat sold its holdings in its French speaking West Africa operations to Maroc Telecom for $650 million (€476 million). The move consolidated Etisalat's operations in the region, and saw the company seek to benefit from Maroc Telecom's experience in the area.

The original deal with Vivendi for control of Maroc Telecom extended Etisalat's reach to nearly 800 million customers in 19 countries in the Middle East and Africa, Gulf News reported.

Maroc Telecom is the second telecoms business Vivendi has agreed to sell in recent months, as the company turns its attention to its media business. In April, Vivendi agreed to sell its French mobile business SFR to cable and telecoms company Altice as part of the strategy.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Gulf News report

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