MOROCCO TO FLOAT MAROC TELECOM STAKE IN 2004

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Morocco has launched an international tender to select an adviser for the flotation this year of a stake in state-controlled telecoms operator Maroc Telecom, a government minister said on Friday. "We want to float a stake of Maroc Telecom before the end of the year," Finance and Privatisation Minister Fathallah Oualalou said last week. He said no decision had been made yet on whether the flotation would be on the Casablanca bourse or elsewhere.

Oualalou did not reveal the size of the stake involved in the initial public offering or at what stage of the year it would take place. The state plans to relinquish equity control over Maroc Telecom with the sale in the second half of 2004 of a 16 percent stake to France’s Vivendi Universal (EAUG.PA). Vivendi has said it would pay up to 700 million euros ($862 million) for the 16 percent.

It bought 35 percent of Maroc Telecom in 2000 for USD2.2 billion. The transaction allowed it to hold 51 percent of voting rights and derive much-needed benefit from the company’s profits.

Maroc Telecom posted a net profit of 4.0 billion dirhams in 2003, up 8.5 percent from 2002. Its capital stands at 8.8 billion dirhams.

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