Vivendi places a high stake in Maroc Telecom
Despite delays and amidst rumors, Maroc Telecom (MT) received $2.2 billion from France's Vivendi Universal for a 35 percent stake in the incumbent operator. The tender was originally priced at $1.8 billion and delayed twice presumably to encourage higher bids and more bidders.
According to Pyramid Reseaerch, it is rumored that Vivendi was the only bidder left by the December 20th deadline for submission of bids; however, this did not prevent the government from achieving its target price. Now, Vivendi must negotiate terms with the Agence Nationale de Reglementation des Telecommunications (ANRT), Morocco's regulator.
Vivendi has paid $76.50 per person for the stake in MT, the highest to date in the region, Pyramid points out. The company now faces stringent rollout requirements and its success in negotiating license requirements may well prove to be its ticket to profitability. With competition in basic services coming up in the next few years, Vivendi may see its profits from MT challenged as it struggles to meet tender requirements, cover the high cost of the purchase, and decrease prices in the face of competition.
Pyramid asserts that Vivendi's aggressiveness should be a boost to the market, especially the lucrative business sector where broadband technologies will first take hold. The Vivendi-Maroc Telecom deal also carries with it a boon to the Moroccan state. The government will cut its budget deficit to three percent of GDP this year with the proceeds from this sale, and consumers should benefit from new service offerings. Most important, though, is Vivendi's declaration that its venture into the telecoms sector is merely an entry into other industries in Morocco.
The deal also establishes Vivendi’s presence in the region. The company now holds stakes in two North African operators and is bidding for a GSM license in Tunisia. Furthermore, the high prices Vivendi has paid for its tenders in Kenya and Morocco bode well for future auctions to take place in Algeria and Tunisia. ¯ (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)