Etisalat to shift African units to Maroc Telecom

Middle Eastern telecoms giant Etisalat has reportedly agreed to sell six of its businesses in West Africa to Maroc Telecom in what amounts to a restructuring of its operations in advance of a Maroc Telecom takeover.

In November, the operator agreed to pay $5.8 billion for a 53% stake in Maroc Telecom (Rabat, Morocoo) being sold by France’s Vivendi (Paris).

Etisalat (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) appears to have decided that some of its existing assets in the West African region would be better managed as part of the Maroc Telecom business than from its headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the deal to sell the six businesses to Maroc Telecom is valued at $650 million.

It includes Etisalat’s units in Benin, Central African Republic, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Niger and Togo.

Maroc Telecom currently serves markets in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Gabon, besides its domestic market of Morocco.

Analysts quoted by Bloomberg say the deal makes sense from an operational perspective.

Etisalat has pointed out that the deal naturally depends on the successful completion of the Maroc Telecom acquisition.

Having last month signed a deal with various banks for the funding of the takeover, Etisalat is expecting to complete the move by the end of May.

According to the Bloomberg report, Etisalat has found itself under pressure in Africa – where it operates businesses in a total of 15 markets, including Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan – and flagged a 1% decline in revenues in the first quarter of the year due mainly to competition in the Ivory Coast and currency devaluation in Sudan.

The operator is also keen to renew its focus on domestic activities, having lost market share to number-two player du in recent years.

Vivendi has been selling off telecoms assets in various markets as it, in turn, decides to focus its efforts on core media interests.

Besides agreeing the sale of Maroc Telecom to Etisalat, it recently agreed to sell SFR – a mobile operator it controls in France – to French cable operator Numericable (Paris).

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