On The Money - In Brief

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

- The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says that it requires USD8.6 million to help develop telephone infrastructure in 154 sub-counties, as part of a USD11 million World Bank grant for the development of information and communications technologies in the country’s rural areas. The two national fixed line operators MTN Uganda and Uganda Telecom have recently tabled bids for the implementation of telephone networks in the rural districts, and the UCC is currently evaluating their offers with the aim of awarding a contract in October. Both telcos made a U-turn after earlier declaring the 154 sub-counties commercially unviable. According to the regulator, a further USD1 million in grant funds will be spent on the establishment of internet points of presence (PoPs) in 32 districts, whilst the building of 20 new tele-centres will cost USD500,000.

- Morocco’s incumbent telco Maroc Telecom today raised its financial forecast for 2005 after posting a 10% increase in first-half net profit. It reported net income of MAD2.637 billion in the six-month period, up from MAD2.397 billion a year previously. Telecom said that it expected revenues to rise by 12% to 14% and operating profit to grow by 10% to 12% percent for the full year, upping its previous forecast of between 5% and 7% growth for both sales and operating profit.

_ French media group Vivendi Universal said on Tuesday it was interested in buying a stake in Tunisie Telecom, which the Tunisian government is partially privatising. "There is an opportunity in Tunisia, with the opening up of Tunisie Telecom's capital to a strategic partner who will take a 35 percent stake. We have decided to be a candidate," Chairman Jean-Bernard Levy told reporters.