Maroc Telecom says that strong demand for shares in its initial public offering (IPO) held yesterday should raise around EUR800 million for state coffers. The government’s sale of a 15% stake in the Islamic kingdom’s monopoly fixed line operator was 21 times oversubscribed with a high level of interest coming from the US, Europe and the Middle East. The shares were priced at the top of their indicated range and will commence trading in Casablanca at MAD68.25, and EUR6.16 on the Paris bourse, valuing the company at EUR5.4 billion (USD7.1 billion). According to Maroc Telecom chairman Abdeslam Ahizoune, investors see the company as attractive due to ‘the large proportion of distributable profits paid in dividends, and its growth potential, thanks to its dominant position and the low level of market penetration.’ As well as enjoying a monopoly on basic voice telephony services, which generated half its EUR1.4 billion turnover and EUR628 million profits in 2003, the incumbent also controls around 70% of the country’s wireless sector – a market which is predicted to grow sharply next year, lifting penetration by ten percentage points to 40%.
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