Etisalat draws strong bank demand for $8 billion Maroc Tel bid loan

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Abu Dhabi telecom group Etisalat is set to sign an $8 billion loan facility next week with as many as 16 banks to help fund its Maroc Telecom stake bid, bankers said.

The availability of credit highlights demand for high-quality Gulf names in the loan market, bankers said, while also advancing Etisalat's attempts to secure an asset whose sale is seen as a vital part of a restructuring at French group Vivendi, owner of the Maroc Telecom stake.

Vivendi is looking to offload its 53 per cent stake in the Moroccan company to help reduce its debts, with potential bidders requiring more cash than the stake's $6 billion market value as minority shareholders need to be offered the option of being bought out as well.

Binding bids for the stake are due on April 22, with proof of being able to fund a buy a key part. The Etisalat facility is earmarked for signing by April 25, a Gulf-based banker said.

A deal is crucial for Vivendi, whose management is due to face shareholders at an April 30 meeting with little to show so far for a year of efforts to reduce exposure to telecoms, focus more on media and cut debt.

The French group failed in attempts to sell video game unit Activision Blizzard and Brazil telecom unit GVT. Pulling off a Maroc Telecom sale will decide the next move in its strategic overhaul.

Etisalat is in a straight fight with Qatar's Ooredoo , formerly Qatar Telecom, for the stake, after South Korea's KT Corp dropped out of the running, sources told Reuters on Monday.