Etisalat now sole bidder for Maroc Telecom as Ooredoo backs out

Etisalat is now the last remaining bidder for Vivendi's 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom after Qatari operator Ooredoo withdrew its competing bid on Friday, citing frustration with the process.

"Although Maroc Telecom represents a good fit for our global portfolio, it is no longer in the best interests of our shareholders to continue to commit capital to what has become a lengthy process," Ooredoo CEO Nasser Marafih said in a statement, according to Reuters.

"We are thus withdrawing our offer and we will focus our attention on generating value in other opportunities across our global footprint through organic and acquisitive strategies," he added.

The company's chief strategy officer, Jeremy Sell, added that there were two reasons behind Ooredoo's withdrawal: valuation and frustration with the bidding process.

Ooredoo had previously been fairly bullish about its bid for the Moroccan operator, and previous reports suggested it had secured funding of $12 billion (€9 billion) for the acquisition. However, unnamed sources have also told Reuters that Etisalat's bid was higher than Ooredoo's, though the bid from Etisalat needed more work than Ooredoo's bid.

Vivendi received both bids in April and has said it expects to complete a deal in the autumn. It's not clear as yet what impact the Ooredoo withdrawal will have on the process, although sources told Reuters that talks between Vivendi and Etisalat are advancing well.

"A final announcement could be made in the coming weeks as Etisalat has agreed to remove some legal conditions that were hampering its bid," one source said.

The stake has a current market value of around €4.2 billion. Previous reports have suggested that Vivendi is open to a selling price of around €5 billion, while some reports have suggested the sale could raise more than €6 billion.

Vivendi is in the process of divesting various telecoms assets, and has also been mulling various options for its French operator, SFR, including a possible initial public offering. However, the French group has already failed to get acceptable bids for its other properties, Activision Blizzard and Brazilian broadband company GVT.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
Vivendi turns spotlight on SFR, sees Maroc Telecom deal by autumn
Etisalat, Ooredoo vie over Vivendi's Maroc Telecom stake
Etisalat readies Maroc Telecom bid, reports flat Q1
Report: Vivendi eyes spinoff of SFR
Vivendi delays GVT sale after getting lowball offers