MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND FINANCIAL RESULTS

Maroc Telecom Q4 revenue jumps 30%

Maroc Telecom, Morocco's dominant telecoms company, reported a 30 percent gain in fourth-quarter revenue as promotions and special offers boosted growth at its mobile phone subsidiaries.

Revenue in the three-month period climbed to 7.21 billion dirhams ($931 million), while full-year 2007 sales grew 22 percent to 27.53 billion dirhams, it said in a statement.

At the end of 2007, Maroc Telecom’ fixed line customer base reached 1.289 million lines, up 1.8% compared to the end of 200 whilst domestic fixed line revenues were MAD9.451 billion, down 5.5% year-on-year

ADSL subscribers stood at 470,000, up 22.4%. Compared to 2006, internet segment revenues increased by more than 25% to over MAD1 billion.

The operator’s mobile user base reached 13.327 million at end-December, up 24.5% year-on-year, and ARPU stood at MAD108.3, down by 4.1%. Moroccan mobile turnover climbed 20.3% to MAD17.096 billion.

French media and telecoms group Vivendi increased its stake in Maroc Telecom to 53 percent from 51 percent in October.

Traders said domestic market growth looked to be on track despite stiff competition from Maroc Telecom's rivals Wana and Meditel -- a joint venture of Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom.

Maroc Telecom has fended off its nimble new rivals through heavy network investment and cut-price airtime deals that kept its client base growing fast in the country of 33 million.

"For now they're seeing no sign of saturation -- every month they propose new products which maintain the rhythm of growth," said Mohamed Bachir Tazi, a trader at Casablanca Finance Intermediation. "They just launched 3G services and that could boost sales further."

Profits from Maroc Telecom's lucrative domestic operations are funding expansion elsewhere in Africa. Tazi said revenue consolidated from its affiliates Gabon Telecom and Mauritel showed good progress. Mauritel registered 50.4% growth to finish the year with 905,000 cellular customers, and Onatel's mobile subscriber base grew by 131% in the year to 564,000, whilst 386,000 users had signed up to Gabon Telecom’s mobile unit Libertis by the end of 2007, a 60.3% increase from end-2006.

Reuters

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