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Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom Stake Draws Interest From Etisalat

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the Middle East’s second-biggest phone company by market value, said it’s interested in buying Vivendi SA’s $6 billion stake in Maroc Telecom as it seeks to expand in Africa.

Also known as Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi-based company submitted a preliminary expression of interest for Paris-based Vivendi’s 53 percent stake, according to a statement to the local stock market today. Others have also expressed interest in the shares, the company said.

Vivendi Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou is considering divestments and restructuring to overhaul the company’s business to refocus on media and content distribution. Etisalat in 2011 ended talks to buy a majority stake in Kuwait’s Zain for about $12 billion, citing political unrest and disagreement among shareholders.

Etisalat joins companies including KT Corp., South Korea’s second-largest mobile-phone carrier, in expressing interest in the Moroccan carrier. Qatar Telecom QSC Chief Strategy Officer Jeremy Sell said in October the company was looking “very closely” at Morocco. Maroc Telecom has a market value of about $11.2 billion.

A Vivendi representative declined to comment on Etisalat’s statement.

Maroc Telecom, based in Rabat, is 30 percent owned by the Moroccan government, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Vivendi hired Lazard Ltd. and Credit Agricole SA to explore a sale of Maroc Telecom, people familiar with the matter have said. Vivendi has also hired Rothschild and Deutsche Bank AG to study strategic options for its Brazilian phone operator GVT, two people familiar with the matter said in August.

Vivendi’s shares climbed 0.3 percent to 16.59 euros at 4:26 p.m. in Paris. Maroc Telecom added 3.4 percent, and Etisalat slipped 0.3 percent in local trading.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shaji Mathew in Dubai at shajimathew@bloomberg.net; Marie Mawad in Paris at mmawad1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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