France Telecom's Richard hint at possible deal for Maroc Telecom

France Telecom (FT) CEO Stephane Richard said that acquiring Maroc Telecom could be "strategically interesting," according to in an interview he gave with Le Figaro. This comment could fit with indications from Vivendi, Maroc Telecom's owner, that it is keen to offload its Moroccan telecoms subsidiary by the first quarter of 2013.

However, Richard cautioned that FT has very limited financial resources to make acquisitions due to its high level of debt (€30 billion) and low share price (€8). "But this doesn't hold us from looking for ways to seek interesting opportunities," he told Le Figaro.

Vivendi has already provided interested parties with financial information relevant to Maroc Telecom, with sources telling Reuters that Vivendi is wanting to complete the sale of the subsidiary within the next few months.

Vivendi has already appointed advisers Credit Agricole and Lazard to gauge the level of appetite for its 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, with suggestions that the French conglomerate is hoping to receive €5.5 billion for its shareholding.

Separately, Richard quashed speculation that FT is interested in selling its stake in Belgian operator Mobistar, and will not buy out the rest of the company.

FT, which owns 52.9 per cent of Mobistar, has seen a recent upsurge in rumours that it may either dispose of its stake, as it has done with units in Austria and Switzerland, or buy out the rest of Mobistar.

Richard said he was glad FT didn't take full control of the Belgian group last year, because of a difficult environment in its French home market. "That's why buying out the minority shareholders in Mobistar is not on our agenda today," Richard told local newspaper De Tijd, according to Reuters.

The Belgian telecoms regulator has called for operators such as Mobistar, which do not own a fixed network, to get access to the networks of Belgacom and Telenet to offer bundled broadband and TV services.

For more:
- see this Le Figaro article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article

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