KT Corp, South Korea’s largest telephone and internet company by sales, has submitted a preliminary bid for Vivendi’s controlling stake in Morocco’s largest telecoms operator, as it seeks to expand in emerging markets.
The move represents KT’s second attempt this year to gain a foothold in Africa following its failure in June to buy a 20 percent stake in South Africa’s state-run Telkom due to opposition from the South African government.
“We submitted a non-binding offer on December 17,” said a KT spokesman, who declined to provide further details.
Vivendi is trying to sell its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom as the French group pushes forward with a strategic review to focus on its media holdings, notably Universal Music Group.
Analysts said a deal could be worth as much as €5.5 billion. Maroc Telecom is almost a third owned by the kingdom of Morocco.
A shortlist of bidders is expected to be announced next month before a binding bidding process slated for March.
KT faces competition from France Telecom, the largest French phone company, Qtel, the telecoms group controlled by Qatar, and Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates-based telecoms rival.
KT has sought to offset stalling domestic growth by expanding abroad, selling IT consulting services and mobile content to operators in emerging markets. It has investments in Mongolian and Uzbekistani operators and has built networks in Rwanda and Congo. But its overseas expansion efforts have been hampered by a lack of experience and limited financial firepower.
“KT has to venture abroad as the domestic telecoms market is already saturated. It is especially interested in emerging markets such as Africa, where it can have additional growth by installing telecoms networks and offering IT consulting services,” said Choi Yun-mee, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.
“But it remains to be seen whether KT can actually get the deal done, given many political factors in play. And the deal looks too big for KT alone to pursue,” she added.