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Etihad Atheeb IPO 2.5 times oversubscribed

Riyadh, February 4, 2009

A 300 million riyal ($80 million) initial public offering by Saudi Arabia's Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications Co was about 2.5 times oversubscribed, the lead manager said.

Investors offered 1.06 billion riyals in the IPO that closed on Monday, Saudi Hollandi Capital said in a statement.

Etihad Atheeb, one of three firms licensed to operate new fixed-line networks, offered to Saudi investors 30 million shares, representing 30 percent of its capital, at 10 riyals each.

The IPO was Saudi Arabia's first since August after bourse regulators froze fresh listings amid jitters that hit local and global markets.

Several Saudi firms, including fast-food chain Herfy, soft-drinks maker Aujan and steel maker Al-Ittefaq Steel Products Co, have had to postpone plans to sell shares to the public.

The global financial crisis added to the woes of the Saudi bourse which has not been able to recover fully from a 2006 crash.

The largest Arab bourse lost more than half of its value in 2008 and fell more that 75 percent from a lifetime peak in 2006.

Etihad Atheeb's share sale follows government rules on companies licensed to operate fixed-line networks.

The company, whose shareholders include private local Atheeb Group and Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco), will face competition from current fixed-line monopoly Saudi Telecom (STC) and two other firms that won licences last year to offer fixed-line services.

The two other firms are Optical Communications Co, led by US Verizon Communications Inc and Al-Mutakamilah Company which is led by Hong Kong's PCCW.

Etihad Atheeb has said it plans to invest $1 billion over five years in its fixed-line operation and to target government and industrial hubs and regions covered insufficiently by STC. - Reuters




Tags: Saudi Arabia | oversubscribed | Etihad Atheeb |

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