May 21, 2018 / 4:36 PM / 3 months ago

Moroccan telecom group Inwi's case against Maroc Telecom postponed to July 2

Rabat, May 21 (Reuters) - A lawsuit brought by Moroccan telecoms company Inwi against the country’s market leader, Maroc Telecom, due to start on Monday was postponed to July 2, a lawyer told Reuters on Monday.

“The case was postponed to enable the lawyers to prepare their defence,” Abdellatif Ouahbi, Inwi’s lawyer said.

Inwi is suing Maroc Telecom for 5 billion dirhams over non-compliance with regulatory provisions relating to fair competition, Ouahbi said.

The amount is close to the 5.7 billion dirhams net income posted by Maroc Telecom in 2017.

No one from Maroc Telecom was immediately available for comment.

Inwi, held by Wana Corporate, filed the lawsuit at Rabat’s commercial tribunal in March alleging that Maroc Telecom broke competition law by holding more than 40 percent of the market.

Maroc Telecom is required by a law adopted in 2007 to open its telecoms infrastructure to other operators.

In September 2016, Moroccan telecoms regulator ANRT addressed a notice to Maroc Telecom calling it to abide by the regulations governing local-loop unbundling.

According to ANRT’s most recent figures up to December 2017, Maroc Telecom held 42.1 percent of the country’s mobile market against 23 percent for its competitor Inwi.

Maroc Telecom held 84 percent of the fixed line telephone market against 12.6 percent for Inwi, and nearly 48.9 percent of the internet market against Inwi’s 23.5 percent share, according to the ANRT data.

Maroc Telecom, listed on both the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, is 53 percent controlled by the UAE’s Etisalat with the Moroccan state owning 30 percent of the company.

Inwi is 69 percent owned by a holding company controlled by the Moroccan royal family. Kuwait’s Zain and Kuwaiti Investment Authority’s Al Ajial Investments bought 15.5 percent each in a joint deal for 31 percent of the operator in 2009. (Reporting by Ahmed ElJechtimi, editing by Ulf Laessing and Jane Merriman)

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