VENTURES AFRICA – Maroc Telecom (Maroc) would invest 10 billion Moroccan dirhams ($1.2 billion) to upgrade the country’s broadband network, Morocco’s biggest telecoms company said on Wednesday.
Maroc, which is 53 percent owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA and 30 percent owned by the Moroccan government, said it would invest this money between 2013 and 2015 financial years.
The company will also invest 4 billion dirhams ($477 million) in other African countries where it has operations. These countries include Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Mali over the same period.
Maroc Telecom had already invested 25 billion dirhams ($3 billion) in Morocco, it said in a statement to the French securities exchange.
The company made this announcement at the time when Etisalat ETEL.AD, the United Arab Emirates’ largest telecommunications operator, said it is interested in buying Vivendi’s 53 percent stake in Morocco’s Maroc Telecom.
Reuters on Thursday reported that the former monopoly had submitted a “preliminary expression of interest” for the stake, valued at around $5.8 billion at the current market price, citing a statement to the Abu Dhabi bourse.
French conglomerate Vivendi is exploring selling several assets as part of an on-going strategic review intended to pay down debt, boost a flagging share price and reduce the group’s exposure to capital-intensive telecom businesses.
Maroc Telecom, in which Vivendi first bought a stake in 2001, offers fixed-line, mobile and internet services in the kingdom, and is also one of Africa’s main telecom operators.
Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA, the state-owned operator, has hired J.P. Morgan Chase to advise it on a potential bid for the stake, sources told Reuters.
South Korea’s KT Corp is also said to be considering a bid for the unit, which Vivendi hopes will fetch 5.5 billion euros ($7.31 billion), two people familiar with the matter said last month.
Should Etisalat succeed in buying the Maroc Telecom stake it would mark a return to foreign acquisitions for the former monopoly, which spent about $12.6 billion between 2004 and 2009 buying companies, licences and other investments abroad.
These investments have done little to reduce Etisalat’s reliance on its domestic market, which provided about 74 percent of revenue in 2011 and more than 90 percent of net profits, despite being home to less than 10 percent of the company’s subscribers.