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France Telecom Says It’s Interested in Moroccan Phone Market

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- France Telecom SA is eyeing an expansion into Morocco as it considers spending as much as 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) on African and Middle Eastern acquisitions.

The largest French phone company “confirms its interest in the Moroccan telecom market,” spokesman Tom Wright said by phone today. Wright declined to comment on a report in Moroccan newspaper Le Matin that said Paris-based France Telecom is in talks to take a 40 percent stake in local operator Medi Telecom SA.

France Telecom is building up its African operations as part of a plan to double emerging-market revenue in five years and reduce dependence on a slow-growing domestic market. The company is studying four to five possible acquisitions in the region, Marc Rennard, executive director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, said in June.

Entering the Moroccan market would bring France Telecom into direct competition in that market with domestic rival Vivendi SA, the majority owner of former monopoly Maroc Telecom. Vivendi, which also owns number-two French operator SFR, has used Maroc Telecom as a vehicle for mobile acquisitions in countries including Burkina Faso and Mali.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Campbell in Paris via mcampbell39@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net.

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