France's Vivendi Universalhas expressed interest in the purchase of a further stake in state telecoms operator Maroc Telecom. The sale would give the French company a 51 per cent controlling stake in the operator, following its $2,200 million purchase of a 35 per cent share in December 2000.
'The government is now looking at the sale of 16 per cent of Maroc Telecom to Vivendi,' says Rachid Sefrioui, a director at the state telecoms regulator Agence Nationale de Reglementation des Telecommunications (ANRT). 'A decision on whether this will go ahead will be made by the end of the year.' Vivendi has indicated that if it fails to gain a majority holding, it will consider divesting its share in the company. If this were to occur, the government is likely to look for other private investors for the capital. Rabat is also planning an initial public offering (IPO) in Maroc Telecom's share capital. A consortium of Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribasand Banque Commerciale du Maroc (BCM)was in June awarded the financial advisory mandate for the sale. Under the mandate, the group will draw up a sale strategy and recommend the size of the stake to be sold, up to a maximum of 20 per cent. The shares will be floated on a combination of the Casablanca Stock Exchange and either the London Stock Exchange or the Paris bourse (MEED 30:4:04).