Etisalat to Complete Maroc Telecom Acquisition by End of May

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT), the most valuable company in the United Arab Emirates, plans to complete the acquisition of a controlling stake in Maroc Telecom SA by the end of May, its chief financial officer said.

The agreement to buy Vivendi SA’s 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom is subject to regulatory approvals from the five jurisdictions in which the carrier operates, Serkan Okandan said in a phone interview today. The Abu Dhabi-based phone company, also known as Etisalat, has commitments to raise as much as 4.1 billion euros ($5.6 billion) from 17 international and domestic banks to finance the purchase.

Telecommunications companies in the Gulf Arab region are expanding abroad as domestic markets become saturated. The takeover will give Etisalat control of the biggest wireless carrier in Morocco, adding to its African operations that include Egypt and Nigeria. For Vivendi, selling telecommunications assets is a part of the Paris-based company’s plan to transform into a new entity built around music, pay-television, European cinema and Internet in Brazil.

“There is no problem with the sellers or the Moroccan authorities,” Okandan said. “Immediately after closing the transaction our financing is ready and we will move on.”

Axiata Stake

Etisalat agreed to buy the Maroc Telecom stake for about 4.2 billion euros in November. The purchase price, at 100 Moroccan dirhams a share in cash, includes a 7.4-dirham dividend to be paid to Vivendi, Etisalat said in a Nov. 5 statement.

Etisalat shares fell 0.4 percent to 12.35 dirhams at the market close in Abu Dhabi, after falling as much as 1.2 percent today. The company reported a 2013 profit of 7.08 billion dirhams ($1.9 billion), missing the 7.75 billion dirhams mean estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Okandan said impairment on assets amounted to 1 billion dirhams and a revaluation of its 4.2 percent stake in Jakarta-listed PT XL Axiata accounted for half of that. Etisalat sold its 9.1 percent stake in XL Axiata in September 2012 and the company hopes to sell its remaining shares as soon as possible.

“We are holding that stake as an asset for sale on our balance sheet,” Okandan said. “We are looking for the perfect timing to sell.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarmad Khan in Dubai at skhan170@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Samuel Potter at spotter33@bloomberg.net

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