Maroc Telecom to stay on growth track in 2009

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Maroc Telecom, Morocco's leading telecoms group, will stay on a strong track of growth this year despite greater competition, company chairman said on Tuesday.

"Our performance for this year will be good. Our business will remain on a strong path of growth. We have invested in new services that will generate more growth," Chairman Abdeslam Ahizoune told a news conference on Tuesday.

Maroc Telecom, which is 54-percent owned Vivendi, said on Monday evening that its 2008 net profit rose 18.5 percent year-on-year to 9.5 billion dirhams ($1.10 billion).

Ahizoune dismissed speculations by analysts that the arrival of a new competitor in the mobile-phone market could trim Maroc Telecom's profitability, which comes mostly from its mobile operation.

"We welcome more competition in the market, which would improve the growth of the telecoms sector. We have more room to cut prices and benefit consumers," he said. Wana, the telecoms arm of Morocco's biggest conglomerate ONA won the contract for the country's third wireless phone network earlier this month.

Ahizoune reiterated that the company expected revenue to grow by more than 3 percent this year and said the margin of its earnings from operations would remain as high as the 47 percent posted last year.

The group's conslidated earnings from operations were up 13.5 percent to 13.9 billion dirhams and revenue grew 7.2 percent to 29.5 billion dirhams as it expanded its mobile customers by 12.5 percent to 17.1 million. $1=8.612 Moroccan Dirham Reuters