* Leaves Etisalat as sole bidder
* Vivendi, Etisalat talks advancing well-sources
* Maroc Tel sale is important step in Vivendi revamp
(sources, price details, Myanmar)
By Leila Abboud and Sophie Sassard
PARIS, June 14 Qatar-backed telecom group
Ooredoo has withdrawn its bid for Vivendi's 53 percent
stake in Maroc Telecom, leaving rival Gulf operator
Etisalat as the remaining bidder.
The sale of Morocco's biggest fixed and mobile telecom
operator is an essential part of Vivendi's year-old strategy
revamp to reduce its presence in telecoms and focus more on its
Talks between Vivendi and Etisalat are advancing well, said
two people familiar with the situation.
"A final announcement could be made in the coming weeks as
Etisalat has agreed to remove some legal conditions that were
hampering its bid," one of the people said.
Shares in Vivendi fell after Ooredoo's announcement and were
down as much as 3 percent before recovering some ground, but
they were still the biggest loser on the French blue-chip index
at 1447 GMT.
"The two reasons we pulled out were valuation and
frustration with the process," Jeremy Sell, Ooredoo's chief
strategy officer said.
Sources told Reuters in May that Etisalat's bid was higher
than Ooredoo's, though it contained more conditions and needed
more work than the Qatari bid.
The stake is worth 4.2 billion euros at current valuations.
Maroc Telecom shares stood at 98.7 dirhams on Friday.
A third person familiar with the situation said Vivendi had
indicated that it was seeking a price at or above recent market
prices. The 50-day moving average for Maroc Telecom shares is
Ooredoo's withdrawal ends a battle between two of the
largest Middle East telecom operators for a prize asset that
would have boosted both of their footprints in north and
Maroc Telecom offers fixed-line, mobile and Internet
services in the kingdom and is one of Africa's top telecom
firms, with units in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania.
The buyer will inherit a firm that has been a reliable cash
machine for Vivendi but has seen slower growth in recent years,
analysts say, although there is growth potential in sub-Saharan
Africa, where sales and profits rose last year.
"Although Maroc Telecom represents a good fit for our global
portfolio, it is no longer in the best interests of our
shareholders to continue to commit capital to what has become a
lengthy process," said Ooredoo's Chief Executive Officer Nasser
Marafih in a statement.
"We are thus withdrawing our offer and we will focus our
attention on generating value in other opportunities across our
global footprint through organic and acquisitive strategies."
Ooredoo is one of 11 telcos bidding for a mobile licence in
Myanmar, one of the last major untapped mobile markets.
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Erica Billingham)