Morocco to sell up to 8% of Maroc Telecom

RABAT (Reuters) - Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s largest telecom operator, said on Friday that the government would sell up to an 8% stake in the company.

Maroc Telecom, listed on both the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, is 53% owned by United Arab Emirates company Etisalat, with the Moroccan state owning 30%.

A public offering on Casablanca stock exchange will be announced in the next few weeks, the company said in a statement.

The sale is the first step in a government privatization plan to pump 5 billion to 6 billion dirhams ($527 million-$633 million) into the state budget by selling state assets to cut the 2019 budget deficit to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product. The deficit stood at 3.8 percent in 2018.

Without privatization the budget deficit would hit 3.7 percent of GDP in 2019, government officials said.

The government also plans to sell the five-star La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech and the Tahaddart power plant in the north of the country.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi. Editing by Jane Merriman