Etisalat to sell West Africa businesses to Maroc Telecom for $650M

Etisalat has agreed to sell its stakes in its French-speaking West Africa operations to Maroc Telecom for $650 million (€469 million) in a deal that sees the units pass to a company the United Arab Emirates-based operator is on the verge of buying.

Etisalat gave no reason for the sale, merely saying that it has signed a share purchase agreement with Maroc Telecom for its stakes in its operations in Benin, the Central African Republic, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Niger and Togo. The operations are all grouped under Etisalat's wholly owned Atlantique Telecom unit.

The operator added that the agreement is subject to a number of conditions, including the closing of the deal to acquire Vivendi's 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom. Other conditions include securing regulatory approval in the six countries in West Africa that are concerned in the deal.

The West Africa units provide mobile voice and data services and operate under the Moov brand. The agreement also includes Prestige Telecom on the Ivory Coast, which provides IT services to Etisalat operations in the countries.

A likely cause of the transfer is the wish to consolidate control of the French-speaking West Africa operations and benefit from Maroc Telecom's experience in this market.

"Maroc Telecom has done pretty well with its own operations in sub-Saharan Africa, so Etisalat's thinking seem to be that it should take advantage of Maroc Telecom's demonstrable expertise in that region," Matthew Reed, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media in Dubai, told Reuters.

Etisalat last month signed a €3.15 billion ($4.4 billion) deal with 17 banks to fund the acquisition of the Maroc Telecom stake. The company expects the transaction to be completed by the end of this month.

For Vivendi, the move forms part of its strategy to focus and strengthen its businesses around media and content activities. The group has also recently agreed the sale of its French telecoms unit SFR to Numericable and its parent company Altice.

For more:
- see this Etisalat release
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
Etisalat signs €3.15B loan to fund Maroc Telecom buy
Altice to buy Vivendi's SFR for €17B
Etisalat sees completion of Maroc Telecom stake by end-May
Vivendi to sell Maroc Telecom stake to Etisalat for €4.2B
Vivendi's telecoms exit plan hits a speed bump