Vivendi has received two binding offers for its 53 per cent stake in fixed and mobile operator Maroc Telecom, after both Dubai-based Etisalat and Qatari operator Ooredoo submitted bids, as had been widely expected.
Vivendi is expected to choose a preferred bidder during the week commencing 29th April, and then go into exclusive negotiations, Reuters quoted a person with direct knowledge of the matter as saying.
The stake has a current market value of around €4.46 billion, and the French Vivendi group is reported to be open to a sales price of around €5 billion, while some reports have suggested it could raise more than €6 billion.
Etisalat and Qatar have both agreed to funding deals to support their bids with consortiums of banks. Both are expected to raise money to cover the loans in the bond market in future, the Financial Times reported. The contest for the stake now seems to be a straight fight between the two Gulf operators after South Korean operator KT Corp pulled out earlier in April.
Meanwhile, rating agency Fitch issued a statement saying it is monitoring Ooredoo and Etisalat's offers to acquire Vivendi's stake in Maroc Telecom.
"As there is currently little detail on the structure, timing and size or likelihood of the potential transaction, Fitch does not intend to take any rating action at this time," the agency said. "However, the agency will closely monitor the transaction's possible evolution and evaluate the impact of any changes to Ooredoo and Etisalat business and financial profile."
The agency also noted that the companies' respective governments are the main drivers of the two entities' ratings. The UAE own 60.03 per cent of Etisalat and the State of Qatar directly and indirectly holds 68 per cent of Ooredoo.
The Vivendi group is in the process of divesting various telecoms assets, and reports say it has also considered splitting off its French mobile network subsidiary, SFR, into a separate company. It has already failed to get acceptable bids for its other properties, Activision Blizzard and Brazilian broadband company GVT, however.
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