Etisalat sees completion of Maroc Telecom stake by end-May

Etisalat said it expects to complete the somewhat drawn-out acquisition of Vivendi's 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom by the end of May, bringing to an end a process that started in the first quarter of 2013.

The United Arab Emirates-based operator is paying €3.9 billion ($5.4 billion) for the stake in Maroc Telecom, plus €300 million in 2012 dividends from the Moroccan operator.

Etisalat CFO Serkan Okandan told Reuters that regulatory approval is required from all the countries where Maroc Telecom operates, including Gabon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Mali.

That approval was likely to be a formality in most places, analysts told Reuters, although Gabon may be more complicated because Etisalat owns Gabon operator Moov. Okandan added that Morocco's takeover rules require Etisalat to make a buyout offer for Maroc Telecom's minority shareholders, but he did not provide further details.

After initially competing for the Maroc Telecom stake with Ooredoo, Etisalat became the sole bidder by June last year after the Qatari operator withdrew its offer citing frustration with the process.

Vivendi entered into exclusive talks with Etisalat in July, but it took until November to sign a definitive agreement. Vivendi previously said it was confident the transaction would be completed by early 2014.

For Vivendi, the move forms part of its strategy to focus and strengthen its businesses around media and content activities. The focus is now on its French unit SFR, currently the target of Altice and Numericable, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad.

Reuters also reported that Etisalat missed analysts' forecasts despite a 70 per cent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, after it took impairments on its Nigerian and Indonesian operations. Reuters calculated the net profit at 1.45 billion dirhams (€287 million/$394.77 million) in the last three months of 2013.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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