DUBAI/LONDON: Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates' biggest telecommunications operator, has hired banks to advise on its planned acquisition of Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, banking sources aware of the matter said.
The state-controlled firm picked BNP Paribas and Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank as financial advisers, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public.
A spokesman for Etisalat declined to comment.
Vivendi, the French media, entertainment and telecoms conglomerate, is looking to sell several assets as part of an overhaul aimed at cutting debt and reducing its exposure to the capital-intensive telecoms business.
Its majority stake in Maroc Telecom is worth about $6 billion on current market value, and a potential buyer for the stake would also be expected to make a mandatory offer to minority shareholders, further boosting the takeover price.
Etisalat is talking to banks about a syndicated loan of up to $8 billion to finance the potential transaction, banking sources told Reuters Loan and Pricing Corp earlier in February.
Other bidders for the stake include Gulf operator Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and South Korean telecoms company KT Corp.
Qtel has hired J.P. Morgan Chase Inc as adviser, while KT Corp picked Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse and Societe Generale to advise and finance a potential transaction, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Maroc Telecom has majority stakes in Gabon Telecom, Mauritania's MaurieTel, Burkina Faso's Onatel and Mali's Sotelma.
It posted a 17 percent drop in 2012 net profit, citing restructuring charges and a non-recurring contribution to the government. Morocco is expected to retain its 30 percent holding in Maroc Telecom. (Reuters)