Zain Saudi to defer $1.49bn licence fee payment
Riyadh, June 3, 2013
Indebted telecoms operator Zain Saudi has received government approval to defer licence fee payments totalling $1.49 billion over seven years, sending its shares on Monday to an eight-month high.
The rescheduled payment will be treated as a commercial loan, with the first payment due in 2021, the company said.
Shares in Zain Saudi, which also has $3 billion of loans maturing this month, were up 9.7 percent at 9.65 riyals at 0945 GMT, reaching their highest level since October 2012.
The firm, which had a 15 percent share of Saudi's mobile subscribers as of the end of 2012, reached an agreement with Saudi's Ministry of Finance to reschedule its annual licence fee of 800 million riyals ($213.3 million) for the coming seven years, the company said in a bourse statement late on Sunday.
The firm, 37-percent owned by Kuwait's Zain, has yet to make a quarterly net profit since launching operations in 2008.
Zain Saudi agreed to pay $6.1 billion for Saudi Arabia's third mobile network licence, valid for 25 years but has struggled to compete with Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily). – Reuters