Etisalat offers higher price for Maroc stake
Abu Dhabi, May 25, 2013
Gulf telecom operator Etisalat has offered a higher price for Vivendi's Maroc Telecom stake than rival Qatari bidder Ooredoo, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Etisalat's bid needs further work, however, and has more legal conditions than Ooredoo's offer, so Vivendi has not yet made a final choice, the people said.
"If Etisalat cleans up its offer, then it wins," said one of the sources, who is close to the process. "If not, it will go to Qatar, who also made an offer that Vivendi can accept."
While the exact prices of the offers were not clear, sources earlier said that they had come in lower than the five billion euros ($6.5 billion) Vivendi had initially hoped for and closer to the market value of the stake.
Vivendi's 53 per cent shareholding in Maroc Telecom is now worth 4.34 billion euros.
Maroc Telecom offers fixed-line, mobile and Internet services in the kingdom and is one of Africa's top telecom firms, with units in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania.
The buyer will inherit a firm that has been a reliable cash machine for Vivendi but has seen slower growth in recent years, analysts say, although there is growth potential in sub-Saharan Africa, where sales and profits rose last year.
Vivendi has been in talks in recent weeks with Etisalat to remove some of the legal clauses in its bid, the sources said. The UAE-backed group has scheduled an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Tuesday to approve the financing package for the bid.
Ooredoo, meanwhile, crafted its offer with minimal conditions to make it simple and less risky for Vivendi, the group's strategy chief said earlier.
Vivendi has not asked Ooredoo to improve its offer so far, the first source said. Ooredoo is frustrated with the slowness of the process and what it sees as a lack of communication from Vivendi, said two other sources familiar with the situation.-Reuters
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