France Telecom CEO hints at Maroc Telecom interest

PARIS Tue Dec 4, 2012 3:23pm EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - An acquisition of Vivendi (VIV.PA) unit Maroc Telecom by France Telecom FTE.PA could be "strategically interesting," the French telecom operator's chief executive told daily Le Figaro.

However, France Telecom has "very limited" financial means to make an acquisition given its debt load and low stock price, CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview due to be published on Wednesday that was pre-released to the press.

"(Buying Maroc Telecom) could be strategically interesting, though it is out of the question to limit ourselves to a calendar or valuation," Richard said.

"With a debt of 30 billion euros ($40 billion) and a share price at 8 euros, it's obvious our means are very limited, as are those of other big European operators. This doesn't stop us looking at how we might seize opportunities."

Sources have told Reuters that Vivendi last month asked advisers Credit Agricole and Lazard to gauge appetite for its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom.

Morocco is hoping investors from Qatar or Europe will take a stake in the North African unit, which is 30 percent-owned by Morocco and 53 percent-owned by Vivendi. ($1 = 0.7642 euros)

(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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