June 11, 2019 / 3:04 PM / 16 days ago

Morocco favours local institutional investors in Maroc Telecom stake sale

RABAT, June 11 (Reuters) - The Moroccan government, which plans to sell an 8% stake in Maroc Telecom, will sell 6% of that this month as a block order to local institutional investors such as retirement funds, insurance companies and banks, the ministry of finance said on Tuesday.

The remaining 2% stake will be sold on the Casablanca stock exchange, where the company is already listed, it said.

The government owns 30% of Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s largest telecom operator, which announced on May 31 that the government would sell up to an 8% stake of the company’s capital.

The 6% stake comprises 52,745,700 shares, priced at 127 dirhams ($13.2) per share, which will be sold before the end of June, the finance ministry said in a statement.

Analysts see the stake sale to institutional investors as a way to prevent United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat, which already owns 53% of Maroc Telecom, further increasing its stake.

Maroc Telecom is also listed on the Euronext exchange in Paris.

The 2% stake sale, totalling 17,581,900 shares, will take place on the Casablanca stock exchange as a public offering, the ministry said.

Besides Morocco, Maroc Telecom operates subsidiaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Togo and the Central African Republic.

The sale would pump $1 billion into the state budget as a first step in a privatisation programme that is designed to cut the 2019 budget deficit to 3.3% of gross domestic product, from 3.8% of GDP in 2018.

The government also plans to sell the five-star La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech and the Tahaddart power plant in the north of the country. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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