Vivendi has agreed terms to sell its 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom to the UAE’s Etisalat for 4.2 billion euros ($5.67 billion), the latest step in the French conglomerate’s attempts to become more media-focused.
The deal, which Vivendi said would likely be concluded in early 2014, will see Etisalat pay Vivendi 3.9 billion euros for the stake, plus a further 300 million euros in 2012 dividends from Maroc Telecom, according to separate statements from the buyer and seller on Tuesday.
Vivendi is in the midst of a restructuring to pay down debt, sell telecom assets in Morocco and elsewhere so that it can focus on its TV and music businesses.
Last week, it reached an agreement to buy out partner Lagardere’s 20 percent stake in pay-television operator Canal+ France for 1.02 billion euros ($1.41 billion).
Etisalat is buying into Maroc Telecom at a time when the North African firm’s earnings are under pressure – Maroc’s consolidated revenue for the nine months to September 30 fell 4.7 per cent from a year earlier.
The deal marks Etisalat’s return to foreign expansion after splurging about $12.6 billion on overseas acquisitions between 2004 and 2009 that added little to its bottom line.
The Gulf’s No.1 telecom company by market value currently has operations in about 15 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, although its home market remains by far the most important, accounting for 65 percent of third-quarter revenue.