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Qtel reported to have engaged advisers for Maroc Telecom acquisition bid

Qtel Group is being advised by JP Morgan Chase on a potential deal to acquire the majority stake in Maroc Telecom currently owned by media group Vivendi, reports Reuters.

Qtel has expanded its presence to 16 countries in 2012, and has spent almost US$4 billion in separate deals to take majority ownership of Iraqi unit Asiacell and Kuwaiti operator Wataniya.

Vivendi, which also owns French number-two operator SFR, is looking to sell its 53 per cent stake in the Moroccan market leader as part of a strategic review to pay down its debt, boost its share price and reduce its exposure to the capital-intensive telecom business.

Sources said that Vivendi is hoping to generate around €5.5 billion (US$7.1 billion) from the sale. The kingdom of Morocco owns a 30 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom and so would need to approve the sale of Vivendi’s stake.

Reuters reported in October that Qtel, Etisalat, STC and MTN Group had all spoken to Vivendi’s advisers about the Maroc Telecom stake.

France Telecom could also be interested, with CEO Stephane Richard telling Le Figaro this week that Maroc Telecom would be a “strategically interesting” acquisition. France Telecom already owns a minority stake in Morocco number-two, Meditel.

Vivendi first bought a stake in Maroc Telecom in 2001. Vivendi also operates in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania.

However, Maroc Telecom has struggled in recent years with increasing competition and had to make around 800 employees redundant in July.

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