Mobily extends talks to buy Atheeb to Jan 30
Riyadh, November 28, 2013
Saudi Arabia's second-biggest telecoms operator, Mobily, has extended talks with four shareholders in Etihad Atheeb until January 30 as it seeks to buy their stakes in the loss-making fixed-line operator.
If completed, it would give Mobily majority control of Atheeb and enable it to provide fixed-line services directly, helping it retain customers and draw new ones with bundled packages of Internet, television and phone calls.
In August, Mobily said wholly-owned subsidiary Bayanat Al-Oula had signed a memorandum of understanding with four Atheeb shareholders - Atheeb Trading, Al Nahla Group, Traco Group for Trading and Contracting and Saudi Internet - to acquire a majority stake in Atheeb.
The memorandum set a November 30 deadline to get the necessary regulatory approvals and complete commercial, financial, technical and legal due diligence but this has now been pushed to Janaury 30, according to a statement to Saudi Arabia's bourse.
Talks between the various parties are no longer exclusive, as per the terms of the amended memorandum, the statement said, a change requested by the Atheeb shareholders.
Mobile operator Mobily, also known as Etihad Etisalat and an affiliate of the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat, does not have a fixed-line licence and bought data provider Bayanat Al-Oula for 1.5 billion riyals ($399.98 million) in 2008 to offer fixed-line Internet services.
Atheeb Trading holds a 16.4 percent stake in Etihad Atheeb, Al Nahla has 13.9 percent and Traco Group 5.9 percent.
Saudi Internet holds an undisclosed stake in the company, which is part of the 49 percent of Etihad Atheeb's shares that are publicly listed, according to data from Thomson Reuters company Zawya.
Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) also has a 15 percent stake in Atheeb, which made a loss of 42.8 million riyals ($11.41 million) in the three months to September 30 and has yet to make a quarterly profit since launching services in 2010. - Reuters