Portugal Telecom (PT) and Spain’s Telefonica have agreed to sell their respective 32.2% stakes in Morocco’s second largest mobile network operator Medi Telecom (Meditel) to a group of Moroccan investment companies, reports Reuters. In a statement yesterday, PT said it had agreed a price of EUR400 million (USD574 million) for its stake, whilst Telefonica had also agreed a similar sale, which the Spanish operator later confirmed. The buyers are Moroccan insurance company RMA Watanya, privately-owned Moroccan investment group Finance.Com and Fipar Holding, a unit of state-controlled financial institution Caisse de Depots et de Gestion (CDG). RMA Watanya and Finance.Com are controlled by Othman Benjelloun. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the Benjelloun group already controls an overall 18.05% stake in Meditel via RMA Watanya (13.05%) and Finance.Com (5%). Holdco, an investment vehicle of CDG and conglomerate Akwa Group, owns a 17.59% stake. Finance.Com holds a majority stake in Morocco’s second largest bank Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur (BMCE), which is also headed by Othman Benjelloun, whilst CDG was a former part-owner of domestic telecoms rival Wana. Telefonica said it expected the deal to close by the end of 2009 pending regulatory approval. Meditel’s domestic shareholders exerted their pre-emptive bidding rights to take majority control – rights which Telefonica waived when PT announced its intention to sell up. The takeover comes immediately after several Middle Eastern telecoms heavyweights confirmed their interest in the 64.4% Meditel stake, including Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the UAE’s Etisalat and Oger Telecom, controlled by the Saudi Oger Group. Bids had been expected by 14 September.
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