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Vodafone Qatari subsidiary prepares for IPO

Vodafone Qatar IPO looks to sell up to 40% of shares in second Qatar mobile operator before end of year

Vodafone is setting the groundwork for an initial public offering of its Qatari subsidiary, in which it will sell about 20% of shares before the end of the year, according to the Financial Times.

"We expect operations to be up and running by the end of the year and an IPO would be factored into this time scale," Vodafone said on Sunday.

Other reports suggest the operator would sell up to 40% of shares, having hired HSBC to arrange the sale.

The company declined to comment on how much it values the subsidiary. However, IPOs issued by mobile operators have been heavily subscribed in the Gulf region. Zain, the third mobile operator in Saudi Arabia, sold 50% of its shares for $1.8 billion. This puts similar African offerings in the shade; the Kenyan government has billed its 25% stake sale in Safaricom, in which it hopes to raise $777 million, as the biggest IPO in East Africa.

The UK-based mobile group owns 51% of the licence, while the Qatar Foundation holds the rest. The consortium won the Qatar's second mobile licence last December, beating the likes of AT&T, Verizon Communications and Etisalat.

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