Morocco’s state investment vehicle Caisse de Depot et de Gestion (CDG) may team up with Dubai-based Etisalat in the latter’s planned purchase of a majority stake in Maroc Telecom, CDG’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
French group Vivendi wants to sell its 53 percents take in Maroc Telecom, the kingdom’s biggest mobile and fixed communications provider, but Morocco wants Etisalat to take on a local partner as a condition of backing its bid.
CDG, the government’s financial arm which manages the state’s pension funds, cannot take more than 10 percent in MarocTelecom as it already controls 30 percent of the second-largest operator Meditel along with France Telecom and Morocco’s FinanceCom.
“The law allows us to take up to 10 percent of Maroc Telecom, which it is already a lot for us,” said CDG chief Anas Alami.
A source familiar with the matter said CDG would go for 5 or 6 percent of Maroc Telecom, although Alami said this had not been decided yet and talks were still underway.
“It is [too] early to confirm that,” he said.
Alami declined to say if CDG would buy part of Vivendi’s 53 percent or the 17 percent of Maroc Telecom that is floated on the stock exchange.
Moroccan Finance Minister Nizar Baraka separately told Reuters the government’s 30 percent stake was not for sale.
Vivendi needs the buyer of the stake to be approved by the government, which wants to ensure the new owner of the country’s largest employer invests heavily in broadband and mobile infrastructure.
Under Moroccan financial market rules, the buyer of Vivendi’s stake would have to make a full bid for minority shareholders.
For Etisalat, buying a major stake in Maroc Telecom would help it reduce reliance on its home market of the United Arab Emirates by bolstering its operations in Africa.
Vivendi wants to exit Maroc Telecom as part of a year-old effort to reduce exposure to the capital-intensive telecom business and focus on video games, pay television and music.