Morocco not planning to sell Maroc Telecom stake - finance minister

29 March 2018

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Morocco is not planning to sell its remaining 30 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, its finance minister said on Tuesday, adding that the government had not yet made a decision on other potential privatisations.

Maroc Telecom, the North African country’s largest telecoms operator, is controlled by the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat Group.

“The government has a 30 percent stake left ... This is not now on the table for selling,” Finance Minister Mohammed Boussaid told Reuters on the sidelines of a UK-Morocco trade and investment forum in London.

Asked about potential privatisations of other companies, Boussaid said: “No decisions have been made yet.”

In 2016, Morocco sold a 40 percent stake in state-owned port operator Marsa Maroc through an initial public offering.

Morocco has undertaken a series of reforms in recent years, including moving its dirham currency to a flexible exchange rate system in January.

The new system widened the band in which the dirham can trade against a euro and dollar basket to 2.5 percent either side of a reference price, from the previous 0.3 percent.

Boussaid the market had reacted “very positively” to this change, with the dirham staying within its historical range.

The new currency regime was part of the reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to safeguard its reserves and protect the economy from external shocks.

In 2016, the fund also granted Morocco a two-year $3.5 billion precautionary liquidity line (PLL), which runs out in June. The kingdom plans to negotiate a new form of precautionary credit, but Boussaid said talks had not yet started and declined to give a date.

“This new form will be under negotiation ... We have time to make the evaluation, we are not in a hurry, the Moroccan economy is very strong and the reforms are going very well,” he said.

Boussaid added Morocco was looking at a possible Eurobond issue in London, adding it was in a “good position” to do so.

“But we study the opportunities in the market as we need to make a trade-off with other resources,” he said. “If we do it, it’s not just for raising money, but also to tell the good story of the Moroccan economy.”

Morocco last tapped international markets in 2014 with a 1 billion euro 10-year bond, following dollar-denominated issues in previous years. (Reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by Karin Strohecker and Adrian Croft)

Source: Reuters