Maroc Telecom's profit falls on tax charge

RABAT Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:52am EST

RABAT Feb 13 (Reuters) - Maroc Telecom, Morocco's largest telecom operator, said its net profit attributable to shareholders fell 17.4 percent last year to 5.54 billion Moroccan dirhams ($672 million), due partly to a tax charge of 1 billion dirhams.

The company paid 1.5 billion dirhams to the government in a tax agreement, of which 468 million dirhams was already covered by a provision.

Etisalat has agreed to buy Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom for 4.2 billion euros ($5.7 billion), giving the Abu Dhabi company control over the largest wireless carrier in Morocco and a bigger footprint in sub-Saharan Africa.

Maroc Telecom's sales revenue fell 4.3 percent last year, hit by an 8.1 percent drop in Morocco, its main market, although its customer base grew to 37 million from 33 million.

International revenues rose 9.5 percent, however.

Revenues at Maroc Telecom's subsidiaries grew 13.9 percent in Gabon, 9.3 percent in Mali, 6.3 percent in Burkina Faso and 9.1 percent in Mauritania.

The company said it had hit its target for an operating margin of approximately 56.8 percent as a result of cost cutting. The operating margin was 56 percent in 2012.

Maroc Telecom launched a restructuring plan in 2012 which has reduced its workforce by 14 percent, or 1,404 staff.

Last year, it agreed with the Moroccan government a 900 million euros investment to upgrade its network infrastructure and install fibre optics across the country. The Moroccan government still owns 30 percent of the company.

($1 = 8.2444 Moroccan dirhams)

($1 = 0.7359 euros) (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Potter)