French group Vivendi has extended its deadline for a binding offer on its 53% stake in Maroc Telecom, as talks with Etisalat progress.
The UAE-based operator now has until the end of October to reach an agreement.
Negotiations over the sale of the stake have been underway since July, with the original deadline set at 25 September. Etisalat informed the Abu Dhabi stock exchange that the exclusivity period had been extended without providing a reason.
The deal – purportedly worth €4.2 billion – requires the approval of the Moroccan government, which holds a 30% stake in Maroc Telecom. While it is likely that the state will approve, Etisalat has noted that the deal rests on an “execution of a shareholders’ agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco” and “securing competition and regulatory approvals”.
However, the Moroccan government may be expecting Etisalat to partner with a local operator as a condition of the deal. Vivendi has also confirmed that a final agreement will require consultation with the French Works Councils.
Various other operators have confirmed and then withdrawn their interest in the stake. Ooredoo dropped out of the running as it was dissatisfied with the lengthy negotiation process, while South Korean KT had reservations about the stake’s value.
Vivendi’s attempted sale of the stake indicates that its focus is moving away from telecoms and towards media. Its properties in this industry include Universal Music Group and French pay TV company Canal Plus.