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FURTHER DELAY EXPECTED

Kuwait's Viva still not listed 4 years after IPO

Kuwait, November 16, 2012

The loss-making Viva Kuwait has yet to join its local bourse more than four years after its initial public offering and the telecommunications operator's listing could be further delayed as it may first need to issue new shares to shore up its balance sheet.

Convincing minority shareholders to pump in more cash to the Saudi Telecom Co (STC) affiliate when their original investment has been off-limits for so long may be a tough sell.

Viva, which competes with Zain and Qatar Telecom subsidiary Wataniya, raised KD25 million ($88.57 million) from selling half its shares to Kuwaiti nationals in an IPO in September 2008, launching services later that year.

The company refused to explain the delay or state when it would list on Kuwait's ailing stock exchange when asked by Reuters, only saying it made an application to the regulator, Capital Market Authority (CMA), in February 2012. Saudi Telecom and the CMA declined to comment.

The dismal performance of the bourse is a likely factor. The main share index hit an eight-year low this month, but the firm's finances are a bigger consideration.

At the end of 2011, Viva had accumulated losses of KD68.5 million and KD49.9 million of capital, according to its annual report, which also said Viva would hold a special shareholders meeting in 2012 after losses topped 75 per cent of capital to comply with local law.

That meeting has yet to happen, but its probable remit will be to approve a capital cut to alleviate the accumulated losses, a common practice in the Gulf.-Reuters




Tags: Telecom | Kuwait | Viva |

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