Vivendi also has a 51 per cent share of voting rights, and has held operating control since the beginning of 2001. The share purchase will extend this controlling interest beyond the current September 2005 deadline.

The purchase price includes the value of the 16 per cent stake, as well as a premium for continued operational control. Half of the costs will be funded by equity, with the remaining 50 per cent to be financed by long-term debt raised from local investors.

Maroc Telecom is also proceeding with an initial public offering (IPO) of 15 per cent of its share capital. The company will issue 131 million shares, with each share set at a price of MD 54.60-68.25 ($5.9-7.4). Most of the shares are to be floated on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, with the remainder to be offered on the Bourse de Paris. Subscription closes on 3 December for individual investors and 7 December for institutions.

The government is conducting roadshows for the share offering which have so far taken in London, New York and Paris. The last shows take place in the UAE and Bahrain on 29-30 November. Maroc Telecom on 22 November launched its own roadshows, starting in Casablanca and due to move on to major financial centres in Europe, the US and the Middle East (MEED 5:11:04).