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15 October 2010
France Telecom Orange is to acquire a €640 million, 40% stake in Moroccan operator Medi Telecom (Meditel) from its domestic owners, state investment vehicle Caisse de Depot et de Gestion (CDG) and private investment group Financecom.
Meditel is the second largest
telecoms operator in Morocco and holds fixed and 3G telephony
licences. It has over 10 million subscribers and a 37% market
share. France Telecom says it intends to leverage its
marketing, commercial and technical expertise to contribute to
the development of Meditel in segments such as mobile voice,
data communications and content, as well as B2B. The three
companies have also agreed to float Meditel on the Casablanca
stock exchange "in the short to medium term".
Stephane Richard, France
Telecom’s CEO said: "The acquisition of this stake
in Medi Telecom is the first concrete step in our new policy of
expansion outside Europe, and contributes to our stated aim of
doubling our revenues in Africa and the Middle East over the
next five years." He added: "I am delighted to contribute to
this strategic partnership, which can only strengthen Medi
Telecom’s profile as a dynamic and solid
Othman Benjelloun and Anass
Houir Alami, respectively president of the Financecom
Group and CEO of CDG, said that they see the partnership as a
strategic alliance that will strengthen the position of Medi
Telecom in Morocco and will provide it with a platform for
opening out across the Maghreb region and Africa.
The acquisition is the first
step in France Telecom’s plans to build up
operations in Africa, announced in its Conquests 2015 plan
earlier this year, in a bid to counter slowing growth in its
home markets. Marc Renard, head of France
Telecom’s African operations, said in July that
the firm was eyeing up to five acquisitions in the market this
year. The company has also partnered with Newtec to expand
Orange’s IP-oversatellite broadband services in
Africa to sub-Saharan countries.
There is good reason for France
Telecom to be interested in the Maghreb region, and in Morocco
in particular, according to the Global Arab Network.
The country’s advanced telecoms market provides a
bellwether for the sector’s development in the
rest of Africa, and French rival Vivendi owns 53% of incumbent
Maroc Telecom (MT). MT currently holds about 64% of the mobile
market, in competition with two mobile network operators.
Meditel entered the market in 2000 and holds a share of 34%,
while third operator Wana has garnered about 2% since it
started operations in 2008.