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UAE's Etisalat signs 3.15 billion euro loan for Maroc Telecom buy

A customer walks out of an Etisalat shop at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh
A customer walks out of an Etisalat shop at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's Etisalat has signed a two-part 3.15 billion euros ($4.36 billion) facility to help fund its acquisition of a 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom, the Gulf telecom operator said in a bourse statement on Monday.

The bulk of the facility is a 2.1 billion euro one-year bridge loan, which is priced at EURIBOR plus 45 basis points for the first six months. This then increases by 15 basis points in each of the following three months.

The second tranche is a 1.05 billion three-year loan priced at 87 basis points above EURIBOR.

Although Etisalat priced the loans in euros, they can also be utilized in dollars, the statement said, adding 17 local, regional and international banks were financing the facility.

The United Arab Emirates' firm will utilize the funds at the closing of its purchase of the stake in Maroc Telecom from France's Vivendi.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that an Abu Dhabi state-owned fund would finance a quarter of Etisalat's 4.2 billion euro purchase of the Maroc Telecom stake, thereby reducing Etisalat's contribution to 3.15 billion euros. Sources said the deal should close this week.

Morocco's takeover rules require Etisalat to make a buyout offer for Maroc Telecom's minority shareholders. Etisalat has declined to provide further details, but analysts say Morocco regulations allow buyers to offer minority shareholders a different price per share to the principle deal itself.

The government owns 30 percent of Maroc Telecom, with the remaining 17 percent the company's free float.

Former monopoly Maroc Telecom, whose annual profit fell 17 percent to 5.54 billion Moroccan dirhams ($682.78 million) last year, also has operations in Gabon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Mali. ($1 = 0.7227 Euros) ($1 = 8.1139 Moroccan Dirhams)

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by David French and Michael Perry)

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