UPDATE 1-Maroc Telecom H1 profit up 12.6 pct, boosted by subsidiaries
* Morocco revenue down 8.1 pct due to slowdown in consumption, aggressive competition
* Plan to invest 10 billion dirhams in 2013-2016
* Deal with Etisalat would be signed Sept. 25 if agreement reached
(Adds CEO comments on investment plan and Etisalat deal)
RABAT, July 24 (Reuters) - Maroc Telecom, Morocco's largest telecom operator, said on Wednesday its net profit attributable to shareholders rose 12.6 percent in the first half of 2013 to 3.5 billion dirhams ($412 million).
Vivendi SA said on Tuesday it had entered into exclusive talks to sell its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom to Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat for 4.2 billion euros ($5.54 billion) in cash.
Maroc Telecom Chief Executive Abdeslam Ahizoune said that if the negotiations are successful, the deal would be signed on Sept. 25. All five countries where the company operates would approve Etisalat's deal, he said.
The company said it has maintained its financial goals, thanks to the rapid growth of its African subsidiaries and the 2012 restructuring plan, despite the 8.1 percent drop in revenue in Morocco, its domestic market and its main source of income.
The company said it has succeeded in maintaining its target for an operating margin (EBITDA) at approximately 56 percent. On a comparable basis, the operating margin was 56 percent during the first half of 2013, against 39 percent in the same period in 2012.
Last year, the company launched a restructuring plan which has reduced its workforce by 14 percent or 1,404 of its staff.
Sales revenue fell 4.6 percent as revenue in Morocco, its main market, dropped 8.1 percent, although its customer base continued to grow, by 12.5 percent, to 35 million customers.
Revenue at Maroc Telecom's subsidiaries grew 9.9 percent in Gabon, 10.3 percent in Mali, 6.5 percent in Burkina Faso and 10.5 percent in Mauritania.
Ahizoune told reporters revenue in Morocco fell because of the slowdown in Morocco's domestic consumption and aggressive competition.
"We are committed in a 10 billion dirhams investment plan in between 2013 to 2016, including 3 billion that we have already spent in this first half," Ahizoune said. "It is the time to renew our infrastructures and get ready for the fourth generation technology," he added.
Earlier this year the company agreed to a 900 million euros investment with the Moroccan government to upgrade its network infrastructure and install fiber optics across the country. Morocco owns 30 percent of the company.
Shares in Maroc Telecom have dropped around 7 percent on the Casablanca Stock Exchange to 92 dirhams and more than 8 percent in Paris to 8.2 euros following Vivendi's announcement on Tuesday, as Etisalat's offer values Maroc Telecom at 92.6 Moroccan dirhams per share.
"We have a great African complementarity with our new shareholders, and Maroc Telecom could manage Etisalat's African subsidiaries," Ahizoune said.
Etisalat has six affiliates in Africa while Maroc Telecom is present in five African countries.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)