Maroc Telecom’s nine-month results out; domestic competition heats up

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Maroc Telecom’s domestic fixed line, wireless and internet operations in the first nine months of 2008 generated net revenues of MAD19.28 billion (USD2.24 billion), up 7.7% on the same period of 2007. Fixed line and internet gross revenues in Morocco increased by 1.2% year-on-year to MAD7.19 billion, mainly driven by data and internet business. Fixed lines in service stood at 1.314 million at the end of September, down by 0.8% compared to a year earlier, whilst the internet customer base (almost exclusively broadband) reached nearly 482,000, up 7.3% compared to September 2007. Moroccan mobile subscribers reached 14.628 million at the end of the three-quarters, up 14% year-on-year. Blended mobile ARPU showed a slight quarter-on-quarter increase in 3Q08 to MAD100, although the figure was down by 8.7% from a year earlier. The company reported that it had 18,000 mobile ‘3G+’ broadband subscribers by the end of September.

Mauritel, Maroc Telecom’s Mauritanian subsidiary, saw nine-month net revenues drop by 1.7% year-on-year, due to the contraction of fixed line revenues that were partially offset by mobile activities. Mobile users increased by 31% year-on-year to 1.1 million customers. Another of the Moroccan group’s foreign subsidiaries, Onatel in Burkina Faso, ended September 2008 with 877,000 mobile subscribers, a 91% year-on-year increase, whilst Gabon Telecom recorded significant annual subscriber growth of 42% for mobile, 35% for fixed and 33% for internet services, although the Gabonese incumbent (bought by Maroc Telecom in February 2007) posted nine-month net revenues down 4.2% y-o-y to MAD852 million.

The Moroccan regulator L’Agence Nationale de Reglementation de Telecom (ANRT) says that at the end of September 2008 national mobile penetration reached 72%. Maroc Telecom’s user base of 14.628 million at that date was just over double the size of its nearest rival Medi Telecom (Meditel) with 7.404 million GSM subscribers. In the third quarter the ANRT began counting mobile subscribers of the newest market entrant Wana for the first time, having previously classified all its CDMA-based network users as fixed line or limited mobility; the domestically owned operator was credited with 261,000 mobile customers at the end of September. Wana now controls 53.4% of the fixed line (including limited mobility) market, according to the regulator, with 1.514 million active connections at the end of September compared to Maroc Telecom's 1.314 million lines in service. The residential sector is now the chief focus of Wana, owned by the ONA conglomerate, and in this market its share of 'fixed' customers reached 65.6% at the end of the third quarter.