Vivendi Finalizes Deal to Sell Maroc Telecom Stake for $5.67 Billion

The French conglomerate will sell off the phone unit to the UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corp. as it refocuses on its entertainment business.

PARIS – French entertainment and media conglomerate Vivendi has reached a deal for the sale of its stake in Maroc Telecom to UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat) for $5.67 billion (€4.2 billion) in a cash. The deal comes after months of negotiations and is expected to close in early 2014, following approval by regulators and the government of Morocco.

“The sale is part of Vivendi’s strategy to focus and strengthen its businesses around media and content,” the company said in a statement this morning.

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It’s the second deal announced by Vivendi in a week; it also bought out Lagardere’s minority stake in Canal Plus for $1.4 billion, to wholly own the pay-TV giant.

The moves are just the latest for the former telecom company as it seeks to refocus on its media and music content holdings, including Studiocanal and Universal Music Group. Vivendi has been unloading assets to drive down its debt and grow its entertainment business.

In mid-October, Vivendi finalized a deal to sell off most of its stake in video game giant Activision Blizzard in an $8.2 billion deal after it was cleared by U.S. courts, though it still holds 12 percent of the Call of Duty maker. Also in October, Vivendi announced it will hold onto Brazilian ISP GTV and launch pay-TV services in that country in a joint-venture with EchoStar.

The company’s next move could be to offer an IPO for French telecom unit SFR. It’s still deciding what to do with the struggling mobile and Internet provider, after studying a plan to separate SFR from the core entertainment group and subsequently hiring U.S. and French banks to explore an IPO of the unit.