Moov Cote d’Ivoire to be ‘swallowed’ by Maroc Telecom

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

Atlantique Telecom Côte d’Ivoire, which trades as Moov Côte d’Ivoire (Moov CI), is about to be acquired by Maroc Telecom, the Ivorian government announced this week, after meeting on Wednesday for the first time this year under the leadership of President Alassane Ouattara.

Moov CI is one of the country’s mobile operators, which is owned by United Arab Emirates group Etisalat.

The deal appears done and sealed as the ultimate decision was approved by the head of state after intense consultations with advisers, experts and various stakeholders.

“The Council has adopted a decree on the change of ownership at Atlantique Telecom Cote d’Ivoire,” read the cabinet statement, signed by Bruno Koné Nabagné, government spokesperson and minister of posts and ICTs.

“This decree confirms in accordance with the regulations in force in the ICT sector the acquisition of Moov CI by Maroc Telecom,” the statement added.

The deal follows the acquisition by Etisalat of 53% of Maroc Telecom’s Vivendi, the transaction that gave Etisalat the control of the Moroccan telecom giant in 2013. The UAE group then had to sell six of its sub-Saharan African mobile operations to Maroc Telecom.

Maroc Telecom has recently been listed as one of the powerful telecom groups in the world and was ranked second in Africa behind South Africa’s MTN by Total Telecom Magazine. Its turnover for 2014 stood at two billion euros.

Maroc Telecom enjoys a 42% market share in the Moroccan market, and boasts about 44 million subscribers.

Industry watchers in Gabon have been predicting that the Etisalat control of Maroc Telecom and the latter's acquisition of Etisalat's mobile units will some day pave the way to Gabon Telecom, majority-owned by Maroc Telecom, being merged with Moov Gabon.

“This is the early good news for 2015 in the telecommunication sector, which could be the year full of interesting bounds and rebounds in Africa, as investors continue to search for new business opportunities in an industry that has seen a tremendous growth in the past decade,” technology analyst John Osei-Seidu told Biztechafrica on Thursday.

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