Saudi Telecom trumps bids for Kuwaiti telco

Operator bid $438mn for a stake in Kuwait's third mobile phone company, report says.

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By  Ulf Laessing and James Cordahi Published  November 27, 2007

Saudi Telecom Company bid the most - 120 million dinars ($438 million) - for a stake in Kuwait's third mobile phone company, Al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday, without saying how it got the information.

Saudi Telecom offered 923 fils per share for 130 million shares, equivalent to 26% of the telecom company that the Kuwaiti government is setting up, Al-Watan said. There are 1,000 fils in a dinar.

State-owned Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), which is arranging the sale of the stake, could not confirm the report.

"We haven't opened the financial bids yet," KIA official Adel Al-Roumi, head of the firm's founding committee, told Reuters. "We will announce the winner tomorrow at 12 o'clock [0900 GMT]."

Saudi Telecom spokesman Qusai Al-Fawaz declined to comment.

A group, which includes Kuwait Finance House, was the second-highest bidder, Al-Watan said.

The KIA said last week nine firm and groups had bid for the stake, including the UAE's Etisalat, Turkey's Turkcell, and a consortium of Batelco and Islamic firm Investment Dar.

Other bidders are Kuwait's Global Investment House, and a group including Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK).

Roumi said an initial public offering (IPO) to sell another 50% of the company would take place in February, open to Kuwaiti citizens only.

The new operator would compete with Mobile Telecommunications Company (Zain) and National Mobile Telecommunications Company (Wataniya) in the nation of about three million people.

The government will retain 24% of the company. (Reuters)

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