MAROC TELCOM UP FOR SALE BY SEPTEMBER, SAYS FINANCE MINISTER

Telecoms

Morocco’s Finance Minister Fathallah Oualalou said on Friday that he sees by September the start of the process by which Vivendi Universal will acquire a further 16 percent stake in Maroc Telecom. "The two parties (Vivendi and the Moroccan government) will respect their commitments. The sale process will start as of September, but it will be up to Vivendi to make the first move," Oualalou told Reuters.

A senior official from the Prime Minister’s office had earlier said that the sale was seen taking place in 2004. The purchase would enable the cash-strapped Vivendi to take control with a 51 percent stake in one of its most lucrative investments. The state now holds 65 percent of Maroc Telecom’s capital.

Vivendi bought the 35 percent stake in February 2001 for US$2.2 billion under the firm’s former boss, the flamboyant Jean-Marie Messier. After an agreement with the Moroccan government, Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Rene Fourtou said earlier this year the company would boost its holding with the acquisition of another 16 percent stake in 2003 under the government’s privatization programme.