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Etisalat talks to buy Vivendi's Maroc Tel stake extended to October 31

A man walks past a sign at the headquarters of telecommunications company Etisalat in Dubai October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh
A man walks past a sign at the headquarters of telecommunications company Etisalat in Dubai October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

DUBAI (Reuters) - Exclusive talks for Etisalat to buy Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom have been extended to October 31, the United Arab Emirates' former telecom monopoly said on Sunday.

Vivendi in July entered into exclusive negotiations with Etisalat - the UAE's No.1 telecom operator - to sell its majority holding stake in Maroc Telecom for 3.9 billion euros ($5.28 billion) in cash.

The previous deadline for these exclusive talks to end was September 25, but have now been extended to October 31, according to an Etisalat statement. The statement did not say why talks were extended or at which party's behest.

Morocco's government owns 30 percent of Maroc Telecom, with the remaining 17 percent publicly traded.

On September 11, Morocco's Minister Saadeddine Othmani told reporters that "We have agreed on all main terms and a deal may be finalized in one to two months".

Etisalat's statement on Sunday struck a more cautious tone, saying a final agreement was subject to "execution of a shareholders' agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco regarding Maroc Telecom, and securing competition and regulatory approvals in Morocco in addition to certain other jurisdictions in Maroc Telecom's footprint".

Maroc Telecom offers fixed-line, mobile and Internet services in the kingdom and is one of Africa's biggest telecom firms, with units in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Mauritania.

Vivendi's planned Maroc Telecom sale is a step in the conglomerate's attempt to remake itself as a media-focused company.

(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Dinesh Nair)

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