Much-delayed Kuwaiti telco IPO to launch by June

Gulf state's third mobile operator may be in business by October, official says.

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By  Rania El Gamal Published  April 27, 2008

Kuwait could launch a much-delayed initial public offering (IPO) for the country's third mobile operator by June and the new firm may be in business as early as October, an official at the ministry of commerce said on Sunday.

The government of the Gulf Arab state is offering 50% of the operator to the public. It sold 26% of the firm to state-owned Saudi Telecom Company (STC) for 248.7 million dinars ($934.9 million) last November.

RELATED: STC wins out in Kuwaiti telco race

Kuwait had initially targeted February for the IPO.

"If all went as planned, there is a possibility that the IPO will be before the end of June," Daoud Al-Sabej, head of the department for shareholding companies at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told newswire Reuters.

Kuwait is already home to Zain, the third-largest Arab telecoms company, as well as Wataniya, a unit of Qatar's Qtel.

Al-Sabej said the contract to formally set up the firm is expected to be approved by Kuwait's top legal authority, the Fatwa and Legislation department, within the next three days and it could then be referred to the cabinet for a final nod by next week.

The new company could start operations by October or November, said Al-Sabej, but added it was up to the firm's board to decide on the exact date.

"Nothing will be formal until the Fatwa and Legislation department approves the contract of establishing the company," he said.

Last November, the government said it planned to sell the shares at 105 fils each. It also intends to retain a 24% stake in the new firm. The IPO will be open to Kuwaitis only.

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