* Vivendi selling 53 pct Maroc stake worth about $6 bln
* Etisalat hires BNP, Attijariwafa as advisers - sources
* Bidders working on revised offers - sources
* Qtel and Korea Telecom among other bidders
By Dinesh Nair and Sophie Sassard
DUBAI/LONDON, Feb 25 Etisalat, the
United Arab Emirates' (UAE) biggest telecoms operator, has lined
up advisers for its bid for Vivendi's 53 percent stake
in Maroc Telecom.
Restarting its stalled expansion drive, Abu Dhabi-listed
Etisalat picked BNP Paribas and Morocco's Attijariwafa
Bank to advise on the deal, three banking sources said,
speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter has not
been made public.
A spokesman for Etisalat declined to comment.
The state-owned Abu Dhabi company's bid for Morocco's Maroc
Telecom is its first public approach for a foreign company since
a $12 billion bid for a controlling stake in Kuwait's Zain
failed two years ago.
Since then, the operator has overhauled management by
appointing a new chief executive and new heads of finance and
strategy with an apparent focus away from overseas forays that
failed to add much to the bottom line.
Vivendi, the French media, entertainment and telecoms
conglomerate, is looking to sell several assets as part of an
overhaul aimed at cutting debt and reducing its exposure to the
capital-intensive telecoms business.
Its majority stake in Maroc Telecom is worth about $6
billion on current market value, and a potential buyer for the
stake would also be expected to make a mandatory offer to
minority shareholders, further boosting the takeover price.
Vivendi is also negotiating to sell its Brazilian subsidiary
GVT and expects final bids in March, sources told Reuters.
Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported on Sunday that the
deal was weeks away, sending Vivendi shares up 3.5 percent on
Direct TV is discussing a stock-and-cash merger with
GVT, but Vivendi has yet to decide whether forsaking a full cash
bid for a minority stake in a bigger group makes sense, a source
with direct knowledge of the talks said.
Several global banks had pitched for the Etisalat mandate,
but the company chose BNP because of its strong presence in
North Africa and its ability to raise financing for large deals,
one of the sources said.
"The ability to raise financing is key in these deals. With
Maroc, you are talking about a substantial deal, potentially the
largest in Middle East and North Africa this year," a
Dubai-based banking source said.
Etisalat is talking to banks about a syndicated loan of up
to $8 billion to finance the potential transaction, banking
sources told Reuters Loan and Pricing Corp this month.
Other bidders for the stake include Gulf operator Qatar
Telecom (Qtel) and South Korea's KT Corp.
Vivendi has asked bidders to submit revised offers for the
stake after all of them had expressed a "preliminary expression
of interest", two of the sources said.
"The deal is getting very interesting now and the bidders
are preparing revised offers. There is a formal process and in a
couple of weeks the parties should be ready with new bids," one
banking source close to the process said.
Qtel has hired J.P. Morgan Chase as adviser, while
KT Corp picked Citigroup, Credit Suisse and
Societe Generale to advise and finance a potential
transaction, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Maroc Telecom has majority stakes in Gabon Telecom,
Mauritania's MaurieTel, Burkina Faso's Onatel and
It posted a 17 percent drop in 2012 net profit this month,
citing restructuring charges and a non-recurring contribution to
the government. The Moroccan government is expected to retain
its 30 percent holding in Maroc.