KT Corp. (030200) dropped out of a bid for Maroc Telecom SA (IAM) because of “big differences” in valuation, leaving two Middle Eastern carriers to vie for a $6 billion stake held by Vivendi SA. (VIV)
KT has withdrawn a non-binding bid for Vivendi’s 53 percent holding in Maroc Telecom it made in December, South Korea’s second-largest wireless carrier said today. The stake has also attracted interest from Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT) and Qatar Telecom QSC. Final bids are due around the end of this month, said two people with knowledge of the matter, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.
The sale is part of Paris-based Vivendi’s plan to focus on media and content distribution and pare telecommunications assets outside French wireless operator SFR. Last month, Vivendi halted a planned disposal of GVT, its Brazilian phone and Internet unit, after failing to get satisfactory bids for a business it valued at more than $10 billion.
“There were big differences between Maroc’s market price, the seller’s offered price and the price we estimated as appropriate,” KT spokesman Lee In Won said by phone today.
Maroc Telecom added 0.4 percent to 109.5 dirhams at 11:13 a.m. in Casablanca, valuing Vivendi’s stake at about $6 billion. Morocco’s government, which has a 30 percent holding, has to be on board with any transaction.
KT will consider other business partnerships and minority investments with Maroc Telecom, the Seongnam, South Korea-based carrier said in a statement. Last year, KT’s plan to acquire a 20 percent stake in South Korea’s Telkom SA Ltd. was blocked by the local government.
Shares of Vivendi fell 1 percent to 15.98 euros in Paris. KT rose 1.3 percent to 34,450 won in trading. The announcement was made after the Korean market closed.
A Vivendi representative declined to comment on the sale process of Maroc Telecom.
Vivendi won’t do “fire sales” and is in no rush even if some assets take longer to sell, Chief Financial Officer Philippe Capron said in February. Shareholders are scheduled to gather at an annual meeting April 30.
Qatar Telecom, which operates under the brand name Ooredoo, has the capacity to finance a deal as it examines Maroc Telecom’s financials, Chief Executive Officer Nasser Marafih said in an interview in February. A company representative declined to comment today.
People with knowledge of the matter said in February that Emirates Telecommunications, also known as Etisalat, was seeking as much as $8 billion of loans to back a potential bid for the Maroc Telecom stake.