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RIVAL ETISALAT SOLE BIDDER

Ooredoo withdraws bid for key Vivendi stake

Paris, June 15, 2013

Qatar-backed telecom group Ooredoo has withdrawn its bid for Vivendi's 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, leaving rival Gulf operator Etisalat as the remaining bidder.

The sale of Morocco's biggest fixed and mobile telecom operator is an essential part of Vivendi's year-old strategy revamp to reduce its presence in telecoms and focus more on its media businesses.

Talks between Vivendi and Etisalat are advancing well, said two people familiar with the situation.

"A final announcement could be made in the coming weeks as Etisalat has agreed to remove some legal conditions that were hampering its bid," one of the people said.

Shares in Vivendi fell after Ooredoo's announcement and were down as much as 3pc before recovering some ground.

"The two reasons we pulled out were valuation and frustration with the process," Jeremy Sell, Ooredoo's chief strategy officer said.

Sources in May said that Etisalat's bid was higher than Ooredoo's, though it contained more conditions and needed more work than the Qatari bid.

The stake is worth 4.2 billion euros at current valuations.

A third person familiar with the situation said Vivendi had indicated that it was seeking a price at or above recent market prices. The 50-day moving average for Maroc Telecom shares is 107.5 dirhams.

Ooredoo's withdrawal ends a battle between two of the largest Middle East telecom operators for a prize asset that would have boosted both of their footprints in north and sub-Saharan Africa.

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.-Reuters




Tags: Qatar | Maroc Telecom | Vivendi | Ooredoo |

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