RABAT, June 27 (Reuters) - The Moroccan government raised 1.94 billion dirhams ($197 million) by selling a 40 percent stake in state-owned port operator Marsa Maroc in the country’s first initial public offering this year, traders said on Monday.
Marsa Maroc was established in 2006 and manages terminals at nine Moroccan ports and provides logistic services. The port operator has said it is seeking funds for expansion as it plans to bid for two other terminals at Casablanca Port and is looking for opportunities elsewhere in North and West Africa.
The offering was the first ever for a privatisation and could help to revive Casablanca’s stock market, which has suffered from the knock-on effects of the euro zone debt crisis and a lack of foreign investors.
Morocco has been downgraded to “frontier market” status by index provider MSCI, due to a lack of liquidity in the market.
However, the Casablanca stock exchange’s main index, MASI, fell around 1.2 on Monday due to weaker international markets, traders said.
Marsa Maroc, valued at around 5 billion dirhams, sold 29.36 million shares at 65 dirhams each. It raised 1.94 billion dirhams, including 600 million dirhams from shares sold to individual investors.
“It is a good deal with almost zero risk. Marsa Maroc has no debt and the government will continue to take dividends due to public deficits,” one trader said.
Marsa Maroc had more than 2,000 employees and annual revenue of 2.17 billion dirhams in 2015, company data shows.
The government launched a tender seeking advisers for selling part of Marsa Maroc in 2011 but then dropped the idea without any explanation.
Marsa Maroc and the finance ministry were not immediately available for a comment on the share sale.
$1 = 9.8499 Moroccan dirham Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Potter