French media giant Vivendi Universal has won a tender for 35 percent of the capital in Maroc-Telecom, worth 23.34 billion dirhams ($2.33 billion), a Moroccan junior government minister said Thursday. Vivendi Universal planned to set up a strategic alliance with Maroc-Telecom to invest in Africa and in the Arab world, Secretary of State for Posts and Information Technologies Nacer Hajji told AFP.
Maroc-Telecom on October 3 put up for tender between 25 and 35 percent of its capital for a minimum sum of 20.3 billion dirhams. Three other groups showed interest: Telenor of Norway, Telecom Italia and France Telecom.
Hajji said the Moroccan government considered that selling shares in Maroc-Telecom would boost the share of telecommunications in the country's gross domestic product from its current two percent to three or four percent.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco said he was pleased with the deal during a meeting later Thursday with Jean-Marie Messier, the chairman and managing director of Vivendi Universal, an official statement said.
Maroc-Telecom made a net profit of $234 million in 1999. The decision to sell off part of its capital was made after the appearance early in 1999 of a major competitor in Morocco, Medi Telecom. Medi Telecom, a Spanish-Portuguese-Moroccan consortium, bought a second GSM (Global System for Mobile telecommunications) license from the state for $1.08 billion and began operations in April 1999.
Vivendi Universal's interests include the French Cegetel fixed and mobile telephone business. — (AFP, Rabat)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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