Etisalat signs deal to acquire additional stake in Maroc Telecom

Deal with Abu Dhabi Fund for Development will increase the UAE operator’s ownership in Maroc Telecom to 53%

Etisalat will increase its ownership in Maroc Telecom to 53 per cent. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
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Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator, increased its ownership in Etisalat Investment North Africa to 100 per cent by acquiring the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development’s 8.7 per cent stake in EINA, Etisalat said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

The deal increases Etisalat Group’s effective ownership in Maroc Telecom Group to 53 per cent from 48.4 per cent, Etisalat said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The acquisition cost of about $505 million is subject to change according to prevailing market conditions such as foreign exchange rates prior to the transaction completion, Etisalat said. The investment will be funded through bank loans, it said.

“This will positively impact Etisalat Group’s consolidated net profits due to lower minority interest of group consolidated results and potentially increase future dividends from Maroc Telecom Group,” Karim Bennis, chief financial officer of Etisalat Group, said in the statement.

Etisalat's net profit attributable for the three-month period to the end of June increased about 0.4 per cent to Dh2.39 billion ($651m) from the same period a year earlier, as a result of higher revenue.

In the first half of 2021, Etisalat successfully raised €1 billion ($1.21bn) through bond issuance to repay the maturing bond tranche.

The Abu Dhabi-based company has operations in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 156 million customers. Maroc Telecom operates in 11 countries in West Africa.

Having established a strong subscriber base of 12.1 million in the UAE in the second quarter of 2021, Etisalat is exploring the development of 6G, the next generation mobile network that provides faster connectivity than existing technology.

“We will remain focused on investments in futuristic solutions and next generation technologies, enhancing the overall customer experience while delivering long-term value for all our shareholders,” Hatem Dowidar, chief executive of Etisalat Group, had said in June.

The telecoms operator is conducting research and developing international standards that will be the main building blocks to create a 6G network, the company said at the time.

Updated: August 17, 2021, 2:33 PM