Maroc Telecom building in Rabat
Morocco wants Gulf telecom operator Etisalat to take on a local partner as a condition of backing its bid for a 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, three sources familiar with the matter have said.
French company Vivendi, which wants to sell its controlling stake in the kingdom's biggest mobile and fixed communications provider, needs the state to approve the buyer.
The government, which owns 30 percent of Maroc Telecom, is keen to ensure that the new owner of the country's largest employer invests heavily in broadband and mobile infrastructure needed for the economy.
Its demand for Etisalat to find a local partner is slowing the deal's progress, but is not expected to derail it completely, sources explained. Etisalat would retain majority control and consolidate the business on its books, and is not opposed in principle to having a minority shareholder, two of the sources said.
France's Vivendi and Etisalat have been negotiating the deal since late April when the United Arab Emirates-based company submitted an offer, which the seller chose over a lower bid from Qatar-backed Ooredoo.
"Morocco would like to be able to rely on another solid Moroccan partner that could eventually become the voice of Morocco within the company's board," said one source speaking on the condition of anonymity.