Vivendi eyes one third Oger stake

The French media group is in advanced talks to acquire a 33% stake in Dubai-based Oger Telecom.

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By  Reuters Published  September 15, 2007

France's Vivendi is in advanced talks to buy about 33% of Oger Telecom in a deal that would expand the media group's telecom business into Turkey and South Africa, a person familiar with the talks said.

"Talks are at a very advanced stage. They are talking about acquiring a stake in the neighbourhood of one-third," the person, who declined to be identified, told Reuters on Saturday.

Paris-based Vivendi said on Thursday it was holding talks with Dubai-based Oger Telecom's majority owner, Saudi Oger, about buying a stake. It did not give details.

Saudi Oger, controlled by relatives of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, said the same day Vivendi and other parties were interested in taking a minority stake in the telecom firm.

Vivendi owns Universal Music Group, the world's biggest music company, French broadcaster Canal+ and a Vivendi Games business.

The French firm's telecom holdings include a 51% stake in Morocco's biggest telecoms company, Maroc Telecom, and a majority stake in SFR, the second-biggest mobile telecoms operator in France.

Oger Telecom has a stake in Turk Telekom, which runs Turkey's third-largest mobile phone operator, Avea.

It also has a cellular business, loss-making Cell C in South Africa, and internet services in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon.

Oger's majority-owned Cell C, South Africa's third-biggest mobile phone operator, said in April it had received interest from potential buyers, but talks were halted in June, the firm's owners said, without giving a reason.

Oger Telecom cancelled a $1.25 billion initial public offering last November on fears that tumbling Gulf Arab markets would hit the share price after listing.

Its Chief Executive Paul Doany said in March shareholders could revive IPO plans at the end of this year or early next year.

The firm had about $4-5 billion to spend on acquisitions, Doany said in March after Oger's $4 billion bid failed to clinch Saudi Arabia's third mobile phone licence, which was sold for $6.11 billion.

Oger was looking at possible targets in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Doany had said.

Telecom Italia said on June 29 it had sold its 10.36 % stake in Oger Telecom to Saudi Oger for $477 million, part of a plan to dispose of non-core assets.

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