A major participant in the bidding race for Morocco’s market leader has dropped out. Korean firm KT Corp has confirmed that it will not attempt to acquire the 53% stake available in Maroc Telcom, citing “the discrepancy between KT’s own valuation and that of the market and sell-side” as the main deterrent.
The stake, currently held by French group Vivendi, is now likely to be bought by either Etisalat or Ooredoo. Despite this, KT has stated that it would not rule out “various forms of business partnership and even investment” with Maroc Telecom in the future.
Whichever operator wins the bidding is widely expected to make a buyout offer to the minority shareholders. Selling the stake, which is worth approximately US$6 billion, will allow Vivendi to lower its debt.
The Middle Eastern firms have long been considered forerunners in the bidding with KT a relative outside bet, as they have significant financial capital. KT’s financial concerns, including servicing any debt accrued by a bid and “unforeseen tax issues in the future”, ultimately led to it dropping out.
Any offer would also need to be approved by the Kingdom of Morocco, which holds 30% of Maroc Telecom. Bidding is open until the end of April.